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About Acting in Hollywood

Competition – This is probably the biggest difference from any other city you might try acting. The competition in Hollywood is on a level far above any other place. Regardless of who you are or who you might think you are, every role in Hollywood is hotly contested; from one liners to series and movie leads. Not only that, you are often competing with people who you are going to immediately recognize from starring in their own series or movies. There is nothing more intimidating/depressing than seeing you are up against one of your very own acting heroes. In a way, you don’t want to win because you are naturally rooting for them to get the part. The sheer number of actors in Los Angeles also boggles the mind. There are at least 100,000 actors registered with SAG and that doesn’t count the exponentially larger number of actors who are trying to get into the union or are working in theatre and non-union projects. So prepare yourself for a tough haul, but of course there’s a reason for all that competition…all the best and biggest projects are cast here, even if they are not shot here.

Attitude – There’s a certain attitude in Hollywood that you won’t find anywhere else, or at least not to the same degree. Because there is so much competition and desperation, people are not always as friendly as they could be. You may get attitude from the people running auditions, working the desk at agencies, even delivering their pizza. The key is to not let it get you and even more importantly, to not let it change you. You must retain your innocence/kindness/sense of humor and all your other positive traits. Lets face it, no one likes a person with attitude, so you kind of realize all these snooty/bitter/condescending/unhelpful people are probably never going to make much of themselves because they have allowed themselves to be sucked into the abyss. It’s a contagious problem though, so you have be very careful to be yourself and not copy the behavior of others. The best advice on this is to do every job you get to the fullest of your abilities with the positive reinforcement that what you are doing is getting you one step closer to your dreams. Let me break it down as simply as possible. Have good/helpful/positive attitude and you will succeed. Have a shitty/selfish/mean spirit and you will fail. Take your pick.

Transportation – Unlike most other cities on earth, including those with large entertainment industries, you must have a car in Los Angeles. It is hard enough getting around by car, but if you leave it to public transportation, you may as well stay in Wichita (because, by public transport, it will take about as long to get to Hollywood from Kansas as it will from Manhattan Beach!). LA is a strange place because there is no logic to it. There is really no central hub for anything in LA. For auditions, you will have to go to Hollywood, Santa Monica, Culver City, Studio City, Burbank, Sherman Oaks, Encino, Beverly Hills, Downtown, Manhattan Beach, El Segundo, West LA, and so-on. The areas I just described cover over 900 square miles and are packed with people so travel takes time. The public transportation system in Los Angeles is primitive compared to other similarly sized cities, with very few underground or proprietary bus lanes so buses/trolleys get caught up in the snarl and take forever. By bus, you would need several hours to allow for even one cross-town audition…SO BUY A CAR.

Self-Esteem – This may not apply to everyone but at times it can be difficult to maintain your self-esteem while you build yourself up from nothing. This town pulses with ‘hotness’ and the instinct is to try to keep up, even when you’re broke and starting out. Everyone in Hollywood/Los Angeles seems to be an actor and it can wear on you when you are asked what you do, but you have no credits to show for it. Many people will tell you to proudly tell others that you are an actor simply because that is what you have decided to do, but this seems naive at best. Would you tell people you are a doctor because you have decided you want to be one…yeah, exactly. Be proud of who you are because you are an entrepreneur and your business is entertainment. Also, have other interests and hobbies to occupy you and also talk about…play sports, work out, paint, run, study languages, do whatever to broaden both what you have to talk about but also because these things will make you a better, more complete person and that will add breadth to any character you play. When you know about something, it gives you confidence and credibility if that subject ever appears in your acting.