by: Natalie Lipka
I will never forget how I first decided to move to Los Angeles. It was kind of like a movie moment — the decision just came to me. My friend and I were auditioning for agencies in Philadelphia where we were both turned down in the same day. I turned to her as we were crossing the street and said, “I don’t think there is enough opportunity here, want to move to Los Angeles after I graduate?” She said yes. I said “really?” and she said yes again. And that was that. Two years later, I packed up my Dad’s Saturn and we moved out to LA together.
I didn’t think about logistics as far as what it was going to mean to live 3,000 miles away from everyone I’ve ever known. I knew I would miss my family and friends back home and I still do to this day, but I knew this is where I needed to be at this point in my life. I have always had the dream of being bi-coastal and believe that this will happen one day. And like so many others, I’ve wanted to move back numerous times. But something always keeps me here. There are constant experiences that remind me that I simply can’t give up.
Marathon or Sprint
When I first moved here, I thought I’d stay for six months. Just ask my mom, she’ll tell you. I didn’t know how long it would take to figure things out and, since it was years before I would read Bonnie Gillespie’s Self-Management for Actors to learn about the business side of acting, my perspective was limited. You don’t know what you don’t know when you first arrive here. You don’t know that this is a marathon, not a sprint. Thankfully, a Los Angeles native set me straight early on. A true friend and actor at the time, she told me that this would be at least a ten-year process. It takes time to build relationships and it takes mental, emotional and physical preparation to even be ready to be on set. I remember I didn’t believe her. I cried and fought her on this. “No, no, it won’t take that long!” Now, I understand that it does happen in a shorter amount of time sometimes. But when I finally took in her advice, I settled in for the long haul. I am forever thankful.
Industry Relationships Matter
I believe in friends for a reason, a season and lifetime, and I am grateful that this friend came in for a reason — to give me this important advice. And for a lifetime — we are still working together today. The relationships I’ve built and the people I’ve met in this industry have been some of the best education I’ve ever received in my life. If there is one piece of advice I would give to someone just moving to Los Angeles it is this: trust and be open. Take in the advice you are given and listen to your peers and “elders.” Take in what they have to say, but then trust yourself to know what path you need to make for yourself in this industry. I’ve definitely gotten my heart broken numerous times and I’m sure it will happen again. But the love of acting will never go away. I couldn’t shake it if I tried. And now that I better understand the business side and it’s importance, I can combine that passion with a more professional work ethic.
Celebrate the Love
Let’s not forget why we are doing this. For me, I am an actor because I love making people feel. By doing what I do I hope to get people to feel something. As Valentine’s Day approaches, I urge you to take time to celebrate your love of the craft. Whether it’s checking out a new acting class or workshop, shooting a short scene or going to see a play for pure enjoyment. I know I will be celebrating Valentine’s Day and my love of acting by going to see Wicked at Hollywood Pantages Theatre in February. This business may be hard, but everyday can be a celebration of our passion.
What will you do?