After death and divorce, moving is rated the third most stressful thing a person could possibly do. As actors, we often feel the need to relocate to bigger cities with different opportunities that fit our strengths. Whether you dream of Broadway lights, getting a Hollywood Walk of Fame Star with your name written across it, or joining the ranks of top theatre actors in the Windy City, you’re going to need to know what to do once you get there.
Here are some tips to get to wherever it is you’re going and how to get acclimated once you arrive.
1. Save Up
It’s obvious, yet true. Research the city of your dreams and determine how much the rent typically is, what the transportation costs are (metro card, gas money, etc.), bills, food, and so on, and calculate it out. At the very least, try to save three months worth of expenses to prepare yourself for unemployment while job searching and unexpected expenses- such as crashing your brand new car the moment you arrive in your dream city. (True story)
2. Reach Out to Alumni
If you just graduated from theatre school, chances are, wherever you’re going- past graduates are probably there already. Don’t be afraid to reach out to them and ask for advice. A quick well thought out email with straightforward questions is one way, messaging through social media is another, or an invitation to buy them a coffee for a quick 30-minute powwow.
3. Don’t Sign a Lease
Before you sign a lease and get stuck in the wrong neighborhood or with a bad roommate for an entire year- try temporary housing solutions. Couch surf if you have friends who will let you or sublet someone’s place for a few months until you figure out the city. The last thing you want is to realize too late that you live in the scariest neighborhood possible or the furthest from all the auditions or next door to a metal band that likes to practice at 2am.
4. Change Your Phone Number
Once you get there- just do it. Do it now! Before you start auditioning and spreading your résumé all over town.
5. Lock Down a Survival Job
Yes, there are tons of ways to make money and do theatre other than waiting tables- but starting up a photography business and an acting career at the same time may prove more challenging than necessary. You just need something to pay bills now while you’re figuring it all out. If you’re prepping to move in a year or so, get a job now at a corporate chain restaurant like Olive Garden- chances of being able to transfer to a store in the city of your dreams is high and you won’t have to pound the pavement looking for both acting and waiter work once you arrive.
6. Get Acquainted with Your New City
Once you arrive you may be chomping at the bit to audition- but first, learn the city. Get lost, ride the bus, metro or subway, look at a map, play with your GPS- take long walks. The quicker you figure out the city the quicker you’ll become acclimated. The last thing you want to do is get an audition and not know how to get there- wind up lost- and missing it altogether. Ask around and get a sense of what neighborhoods are safe and what neighborhoods are artist friendly.
7. Find a Community
Find your people! Whether it’s a sports bar where fans from your home state gather, joining a touch football team or a Karaoke competition league. Whatever it is you love to do- find like-minded people and connect. Being away from friends and family can make for some lonely days if you don’t find time to meet with your scrapbooking friends, your happy hour pals, or even you Pokémon GO community. Try sites like Meetup.com to find your new comrades.
8. Get a Sense of Audition Wardrobe
Do actors in this city commonly wear jeans and tee shirts or is it more of a slacks, skirts and button-up kind of town? Do some research so you know whether or not to leave your rehearsal skirt at home or if it’s time to invest in a more colorful wardrobe.
9. Lock Down a Good Vocal Coach
Figure out whom to go to before you even get there. You know you’re going to jump into auditions the first chance you get and you’re going to want to know who to go to for a run through of that new song you added to your repertoire.
If you want to get a glimpse into how the industry really works, intern for a casting director or agent or become a reader for auditions. This is a phenomenal way to gain key insights into the biz that could take you years to understand otherwise. You don’t have to do it forever- just get your toes wet- you’ll be amazed at what you learn and who you meet.
11. Get in Class
Just because you recently graduated with your B.F.A in acting doesn’t mean you’re done. Stay sharp and focused by taking a class- any class! It’s not only the best way to keep your craft alive, but what quicker way are you going to network and make friends than by an acting class. Just do it.
Moving to a new city can be nerve wrecking but it can also be the greatest adventure of your life. For every success, you’ll have a step back (like moving into a building that vibrates.) You will make mistakes- but you’re a performer, role with it like you would on stage when someone drops a line. Prepare yourself the best you can and then do as you would in improve and say, ‘Yes, and….’