Should I move to LA with no experience and leave college to try acting?

by Shannon B.
(Orlando)

I'm the guy in the middle

I'm the guy in the middle


QUESTION:

Hey, I'm just an 18 year old guy whose really been questioning a lot about life and what I want to ultimately do with mine, and at first it was just a random thought in my head that I laughed at, but recently I've really considered just taking a break from college (I'm an engineering major), and moving to LA from Orlando and basically trying to survive with nothing but a couple grand and just go to open casting calls and see if I could land a paying job. I know it sounds absolutely ridiculous and I have absolutely no plan on how I would pay for anything, yet alone where I would live, but I'm really scared I'm gonna live a boring life when I feel this calling to just go try something random and stupid, and if I fail I could always come back and start up college again. I've never taken acting lessons or anything but I've always wanted to act and I would hate to live a dull life always wondering if I could of been an actor. So does anyone have any advice or tips for me? Thank you.

ANSWER:

I know how you feel. I dropped out of business school at 19 to pursue my dream of acting. It can be so depressing when you leave high school to embark right away on a serious path like studying to be an engineer or a businessman, especially when you feel there should be more to life then just making a living.

I think it's important to take a long hard look at what really motivates you. If it's just a "calling to try something random and stupid", then maybe all you need is a break. You could take a sabbatical year. Most colleges don't frown upon it if you do something interesting like travel the world or work for a non-profit, etc. If all you want is for your life not to be boring, then why not ask if you can take one year off to do volunteer work in a third-world country or to backpack the globe?

If what you really want is to become an actor, then in my opinion, moving to LA without a plan is not a very good move. There are tons of good-looking wannabe actors with no training or experience living here and very few open casting calls worth going to. If you end up having to take a waiter or temp job to survive, your life will soon become more boring than it was in college.

If you want to give yourself the best chances of succeeding as an actor, you really need to study now so you can get real acting jobs in your early twenties. I've worked for agents and managers and the truth is that most of their clients who got into acting after 18 had a BA or BFA in Acting or at least studied at a major conservatory acting school. If you're serious about acting, why not take an acting class at night while researching and applying to good acting colleges? Look for universities and acting schools with professional stages and connections to the professional acting world.

If you get into a good acting program, you'll constantly feel challenged and won't have a boring day until you graduate. In 4 years, you will have strong credits on your stage resume (plus short film credits and maybe a reel if your acting program is affiliated with a filmmaking program) and maybe an agent through industry showcases. You will have a bachelor's degree, which is a good thing to have if you decide to do something else in the future. Best of all, you'll know how to act, so when you get your shot, you'll nail the audition and be able to follow your dream.

Hope this helps. Use the comments below to add updates from time to time so other actors can learn from your experience in the future.

Comments for Should I move to LA with no experience and leave college to try acting?

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Advice from a 27 years vet. Atlanta baby!
by: Burvis T Shisniffer

Bro. I've from Atlanta, Ga and still live here. I've been here for 26 years, and been a professional actor for literally all of that. I'm still here, and the way the industry is in this town now, there's really no reason for me to leave- its booming.. I work steadily on film and tv and so do many many other actors here too. Great actors with great recurring roles. I was am one of them.

If you want to go to LA, you gotta get some training. Take some classes, audition for some community theater, independent films- check websites and forums (actorsaccess.com) Facebook has a lot of actor groups with audition and class info as well, for local stuff in your area. And really no matter where you live, there is always something happening you can read for.. Build that resume!! Seriously, man, you move to LA when there are thousands, if not millions of actors that look just like you, you're not gonna do well and that's putting it lightly; especially with little funding. And they've worked for it. Work on doing what you can to become SAG before you do. No one will even bat an eye at you otherwise. And it's a lot easier to get you SAG card anywhere else than LA. Do it, dude. But do it, right.
Find a secondary market that is booming like New Orleans, Atlanta (your best bet overall $) or even Austin, to get your start. Canada, I think you need to be citizen in order to work and even get looked at, but that's a place to consider too! You're young, so you got time to do your research and do it right, bro. I hope this helped! Be safe and Gods speed..

los angeles
by: Anonymous

Hey guys,

its great that your going after what you want! in terms of LA, I've been, I'm from vancouver and my suggestion would be if you want to start offf acting- dont go straight to LA. everyone goes there! if you want north America, go to Vancouver- its a lot eaiser to get work there, there's lots of tv and films being made there! if you go to a casting call in LA there might be 20-30 other people auditioning with you, in Vancouver the might be 4-5. so get some expierence under your belt and then take it too LA, so casting directors can say ''wow, you have some experience'' ! which i have heard is alot less likely to get in LA. good luck! all the best

Same here
by: Anonymous

I'm in pretty much your exact situation. I'm an electrical engineering major, but I've always dreamed of a career in film. I acted in several plays in high school and have always been obsessed with film-making in its entirety, but decided to choose a more stable major in college for financial security. Lately though, I've grown to regret my decision a bit. I've been considering taking a year off, moving to Los Angeles and just letting the road take me where it will. I just don't want to be left wondering this big "what-if" my whole life. I just turned 21, by the way. I haven't told my parents yet, but I've been saving up quite a bit of money lately in order to pursue my goal. My main issues with doing this is, well my entire family is here, and we're all very close. My friends are here, and everything I've ever really known is here (Houston, Texas). But I feel like I'll regret it forever if I don't at least try. Worst case scenario, I can always come back and finish my degree. You're only young once, right?

I'm curious as to what you decided.

why not?
by: Anonymous

Why not? You said it yourself. If acting doesn't Work out for you, you can always go back to school. File for a leave of absence through your school that way you don't have to re-apply, and all your information is still held. You can't succeed unless you try. You don't want to always wonder what if! Take a chance and be diligent. The biggest problem actors have is giving up too soon. Rejection is part of the job, but if you keep at it, you will be successful :) good luck!

Simular situation
by: Anonymous

I'm an actress but most of my work was in NY or Philadelphia. I have a big resume with theatre credits. I also want to go to L.A. to pursue acting for film when I graduate. Before you go, you should invest in some training and do some community theatre because the competition is fierce. You are going to want to build your resume. There are also less open calls, and you will need to find an agent once you get there. Agents will only want to represent experienced actors.
You are really good looking. Plus, just being a male gives you a huge advantage. You already have that going for you... haha. It is alot easier for guys to get cast because they have less competition. I'm also good looking, haha, so I know that you probably feel like you have an advantage. It does help.
So go for it! If it doesn't work out, you can at least say you tried instead of become an engineer and wonder if your life could have been different

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