02 Sep Moving to L.A. Part 1: Craft & Community

As I reflect on my last year in Los Angeles, I wanted to share some advice for those of you who have just gotten here or are just now focusing on acting. Today’s post will focus on two big elements that I believe are important and incredibly intertwined: working on your craft and finding a community.

(I was going to write two separate articles about craft and community, but I found it impossible to separate them because the truth is that when you’re working on your craft, you find your community naturally.)

Take classes. Do some thinking about what type of acting you’re interested in. TV? Film? Commercial? Theatre? Drama? Comedy? Let that guide where you’re going to take classes and where you’re going to invest your time & money. When you do a bit to clarify your goals and start in that direction, you will find other actors and filmmakers you connect with. And almost any class will have individuals with both more and less experience/training/expertise as you. This allows you to learn from your peers as well as give guidance to others.

Classes are so important because they also become your acting workout. And again, when you know what your next focus is and find a class that is right for you, you will naturally find others with common goals.

Here are a few places you can start looking if you’re interested in:

Improv: UCB, Groundlings, iO West

On-Camera: Annie Grindlay, Chris Game

Commercial Technique: Killian McHugh, Bill Coelius

Scene Study: Actorswork, Anthony Meindl, Actor’s Theatre Los Angeles

This is by no means an exhaustive list — there are countless places to take classes in L.A. So do some research, audit some classes, and find a good fit for you. Tatiana Maslany (of the award-winning show Orphan Black) recently spoke at a SAG Foundations event and mentioned that she was missing her acting class to be there that night. So yes, even folks with juicy roles on major TV shows take classes 🙂

Start Auditioning. Even before you have an agent or manager to submit you, you could consider joining LA Casting and Actors Access. LA Casting has a lot of commercial and background breakdowns that you can self-submit to, while Actors Access tends to lean more heavily towards casting calls for TV/Film, and for student films at places like USC, Chapman, and AFI. I would highly recommend doing a few student films with filmmakers enrolled in reputable programs. Build relationships with the people who are starting out, just like you, and get experience on set at the same time.

Network. And finally, find networking events that jive with what you’re all about. For starters, I would recommend Thirsty Third Thursday with Bonnie Gillespie and many other ninjas who are proactive about managing their careers. I would also look into the SAG Foundation, which often has events that are open to non-union folks as well. Networking events are great places to meet the folks you might want to collaborate with someday soon 😉

My overall advice is this: Meet like-minded people, and start creating with them. When you can work on your craft and build your community at the same time… that is the sweet spot!

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