Moving to Another Market for Acting Work

It’s like the freakin’ gold rush, I tell ya.

And it’s also a moving target, because due to tax incentives, shifts in the talent pool, and simply the whim of what’s cool on any given day, there will always be some market that’s “breaking out” and everyone wants to go there because of alllllllllll the work happening there.

Yeah.

About that.

I get the temptation.

Everywhere you turn lately, someone’s moving to Atlanta to make it as an actor. (And some *do* make it!) Before Atlanta, it was the Pacific Northwest; before that, New Orleans; and before that, you’d better be able to work in Canada, eh?

Thing is, there’s something that’s true for EVERY market: It takes time for the buyers to get to know the actors available to them. It takes time for you to get the lay of the land and to figure out which of your marketing efforts — that may have worked great in LA or New York or even London — actually make a dent in this new place. It takes time for you to land an agent who’s worth a damn (sure, you can land crappy, spaghetti-slinging rep in any market, pretty much upon arrival, but you want a HELL YES, no matter where you are).

And when you *leave* a market you’ve been in for more than a couple of years, you don’t make a lateral move.

You change gears. Like on a bike. Those jolting, jarring gear changes that have you thinking, “Why the EFF did I change gears? I was going along so smoothly before!”

And of course, we change gears because eventually, that higher gear serves our purpose and we fly farther faster. But that gear change itself can cause some folks to make a move then doubt the soundness of that decision.

How do you know if you should stick it out?

Depends on what your motivation was, in moving in the first place.

As I said to the brilliant lovelies in our Self-Management for Actors Facebook group recently: Never move somewhere “because there’s more acting work there.”

That’s a recipe for bitterness because no matter HOW MUCH acting work there is (see: Los Angeles) there will always be out-of-work actors and you will always be on the PURSUIT more than you are actually working as an actor. Anywhere.

Because it’s true that the pursuit is what you do WAY more than the actual craft you love so much, it’s incredibly important that you choose to live in a place makes your heart sing. Where you have love and family and friends and where you enjoy the weather and the lifestyle and everything else about the space including whether or not you can earn a living without going nuts.

Here’s why: You’re not bookable if you’re miserable.

The most bookable actor is not necessarily the most talented. Heck, it’s not even the one who’s best connected through decades of relationship-building. The MOST bookable actor is the one who is AT EASE. Period. The one who idles at #BigOl5 status and just comes in, shows “here’s who I am when interpreting this material, thanks,” and doesn’t stress about what comes next.

So if you’re considering a move because “there’s more work” there, be sure you choose a place that puts you at ease. Then watch you book everything there, even if it’s a market with far fewer overall opportunities than a larger market but with nothing else compelling you to be there.

Have questions about this? Wanna share your strategy for a happy life in whatever market you happen to be? Scroll down to pop your thoughts in the comments area! Let’s jam!

Oh, and if jamming with me IRL is on your list for 2018, I’ve got good news for those of you in Chicago, Toronto, London, and of course New York (two TIMES, y’all) and LA (duh). More to come, of course.

For now, be sure you’re signed up HERE for the January 11th FREE SMFA Tune-Up call. We’re gonna jam about all things awesome in this glorious business of ours and of course, I’m gonna answer all your questions! Woo HOO!

All my love,


Bonnie Gillespie is living her dreams by helping others figure out how to live theirs. Wanna work with Bon? Start here. Thanks!

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9 Comments

  1. Suzanne January 5, 2018 at 1:50 am

    I can totally attest to this!!
    I booked the majority of my work while living in Philly. I had spent nearly 3 years building “bridges” to the NYC market and getting known by the casting world up there. And I booked!
    I then moved to NYC WITH GREAT HESITANCY and it was NOT a good thing. I did eventually book a few things (some good things, actually) but it was a miserable 3.5 years. Moved back to Philly 2.5 years ago and am still working on getting my “stride” back.
    It’s important to discern whether the emotions one feels around a big decision are based in FEAR (which is one’s gremlins talking and not one’s gut) or based in FACTS, RESEARCH, PLANNING and DREAMS (which, in my humble opinion, is listening to one’s GUT after gathering all the facts through research!)

    Reply
    1. Victoria Blade January 8, 2018 at 9:13 am

      So well said Suzanne! Thanks for sharing 🙂

      Reply
  2. Michael Issac January 5, 2018 at 3:52 am

    Excited to here about what you have planned for Chicago!

    Reply
  3. Catherine Brewton Adams January 5, 2018 at 10:52 am

    Where do I start. I moved to LA in 1993 from Atlanta thinking LA is where the work is. I was having good success in Atlanta. Now the wheels have turned! I’ve wanted to go back long before this current rush of actors moving to Atlanta. When I moved to LA in 1993 I was already considered old for starting out in LA at age 35. It was always a struggle. I knew even then without a doubt that anytime you move and are establishing yourself it takes time. I love Atlanta and unfortunately I’m not able to leave LA because of marriage or I would. Why? Not because I think I would finally make it, but because I’m from there and I love the south. I miss my family everyday. The cost of living is less too. If it didn’t cost so darn much to live in LA and production cost weren’t so high I think people would stay. I have many friends and acquaintances that have left LA that are not even in the entertainment industry because of the cost of living here. I think more people are moving because of that and of course their acting careers. Just keep in mind unless you are an established talent, you will still have to work hard to get those good agents and work. Moving to Atlanta is not necessarily going to guarantee more work either. Go because you want a different lifestyle. Remember if people are moving then guess what…? Now even more actors and less work. Often than not I wish I never left Atlanta or the south for that matter because that’s my home and I miss it. Think about that… Atlanta is my home. Is LA yours? You will most likely miss being so far away from your roots as you get older and your priorities change. Being it was 20 something years ago, I know without a doubt I probably would have had more success then! I was already established, I was younger, everybody wasn’t moving there then. However, the training I got here in LA was incredibly! Howard Fine, Larry Moss, Michelle Danner. The experience and the opportunities to audition and work on top shows and in blockbuster movies here in LA are times that I will treasure forever!
    My dad always said when trying to make a decision look at the pros and cons. Good Luck everybody and enjoy your craft:)! Most importantly enjoy it and have fun!

    Reply
  4. Randy January 5, 2018 at 11:56 am

    I love what you said in this post, Bonnie.

    It’s like that old saying: “Wherever you go, there you are.”

    Reply
  5. Lauren January 5, 2018 at 12:06 pm

    This article came in perfect time for me! I was born and raised in Los Angeles, so I stayed here when I started acting. On the one hand, I felt at a disadvantage because I feel like people assume every LA actor moves from somewhere else, and I have no credits built up from another state. On the other hand, I’ve received advice that I shouldn’t move out of Los Angeles because it would look like I couldn’t “handle” the LA market. Sometimes I’ve also worried that I’m not taking enough risk because I’ve stayed in my hometown.

    But if I really think about how I feel, I say I love being in LA. It’s where my family is, my closest childhood friends still live here, the acting market is huge, and I love all the choices for acting classes around town. I know the city well – the shady parts, the good parts, the best way to beat traffic, etc. This is where I’d ultimately like to consistently work, so it makes sense to stay where I’d meet people I’d be working with.

    Reply
  6. Cynthia Whitman January 5, 2018 at 1:34 pm

    For me I feel like it’s about finding the least of the evils…which place, when every factor/variable is considered, would be the least bad. For now, at my current tier, that’s Hell’s Kitchen, Manhattan. My top priority at this point is to audition for NYC theatre, regional theatre, touring theatre, & film/TV, & to be able to WALK TO the vast majority of those auditions & not have to rely on the subway to get me there on time. When I’m at a little higher tier, & have a hell-yes rep getting me appointments, I’ll probably move to the upper west side. And then if I reach an even higher tier, who knows where I’ll live? Maybe not even in Manhattan at all?

    Reply
  7. Victoria Blade January 8, 2018 at 9:21 am

    Thanks Bonnie for this thoughtful post! You make tons of great points. The happiest years of my career were in Chicago. Life felt rich and full and affordable there. I don’t regret my move to NYC- it’s been a great three years of personal growth and creating my own work. But I’ve never been inspired by the city itself and can’t afford to continue to live here. I think it’s soo important to have a full life that you just really like and I’m excited to find that again! Creativity can flow so easily from that place. The adventure continues!

    Reply

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