Is your child a talented actor? Are you thinking about moving to LA to benefit their acting career but hesitate to uproot your family, your own career and essentially your entire life to do so? It is a big decision, especially if you do not have anyone in your life who has made that leap to get advice from. Just a few years ago, I stood right where you are, and had to decide what was best for my family. Allow me to share my experience of moving my entire family from the east coast to the west coast (from Philadelphia to Los Angeles), what I learnedand what I wish I knew before we moved here.
I remember how challenging it was to make the move to LA and stay the course even when things become difficult. For us, money got tight and the opportunities weren’t always plentiful. It is easy when these obstacles arise to panic and think you made the wrong decision, but we learned how to overcome it all and I’m going to help you learn how to do the same, if this is really something you want to do for your child.
Moving to Los Angeles, California from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania was probably the best thing that my family could have done, and I don’t say that lightly. A lot of people asked us how we knew it was the right time. We knew the time was right because we felt like we did as much as we could in the entertainment industry within our own community. We felt like we were no longer growing at the rate we wanted to, because we had done nearly every type of acting job, except lead film and lead television roles that were available in our city. With my son only booking commercials in New York and my oldest daughter, between the ages of 13 and 15 having already made two short films and a full length feature that she wrote, cast, filmed, directed and edited basically on her own; we felt it was just time to take on bigger challenges and expand our horizons.
We actually considered making the big move to the Big Apple — New York City, but we thought about a few things first.
One: it’s VERY expensive to live there.
Two: traffic is madness, especially in Manhattan where most of the auditions take place.
Three: we didn’t have any connections ie managers, agents, friends in the industry or casting directors there.
Four: the weather gets very cold, worse than in Philadelphia in the wintertime and I personally strongly dislike the cold.
Five: we had been working in the New York market for a few years and we hadn’t really been able to break into the community the way we were able to in Philadelphia.
So, then we considered moving to Atlanta, Georgia, where the weather is warmer, the pace is slower and it’s more affordable to live there, but we knew that ultimately a lot of lead roles are cast out of LA or NY even if the production is happening in Atlanta. But LA was still not something we were preparing for. It wasn’t until — our daughter, the filmmaker, at only 15 years old, released her feature film, sold out a 400-seat movie theater for her premiere, and then got contacted by a production company in LA that wanted to represent her — that we seriously thought about moving to LA.
It started with a family conversation about going to LA for her to take the meeting, meet the company and see what the prospects were. But that conversation turned into us talking about selling our home, splitting up our family and half of us coming to LA to get settled in. This all happened over a two-hour conversation and a month later we were all driving across the country with everything we could fit in the back of my 7-passenger SUV. We had our 15, 10, and three-year-old in the back of the car while my husband and I took turns driving. Once we got to LA a few days later, my husband and son had to fly back to Philadelphia, sell our home and move in with my sister-in-law. My husband had to continue to work and ensure we could survive in LA financially.
Is any of my story resonating with you?
If I could redo any of it, what would I change? I would have had my son stay with me and got him started in the entertainment industry here in LA right away. I allowed people’s opinions to cloud my mind with negative ideas of what would happen if I moved my son from the New York market where he was doing fairly well, to the LA market. Once I made the decision to have faith and I brought him here, within a week I secured him a principal role in a short film, and shortly after, an agent. Other than that, I wouldn’t change a thing. Yes, it was scary, we came out here with barely any money. We had some donations from our community for a week at an Airbnb; and we had a little extra for some food to eat and we knew only one person. We had only one thing going for us; a meeting for our child with a production company — but that didn’t guarantee any work. But guess what? It worked out. We trusted God and trusted ourselves and it worked!
Now I know what happened to me is not going to be the case for everyone, but what I do know is that in order to survive this industry you have to have a certain type of mindset. You must have faith that you’re able to achieve anything as long as you are determined and willing to put in the work. If you have continuous doubt and you are always worrying, then you are probably not ready. There is a lot of work I would put in, at home in your city before considering moving, and these steps can be found in my book “Raising A Child Star” to help you get started.
Often parents of aspiring child actors will ask me what I wish I knew before we moved here. I wish I knew that the opportunities for entertainers here are endless. I wish I knew that statements like “there’s so much competition out there” were meant to push you and not to discourage you. This industry calls for flexibility and resilience, so make sure that you’re looking into online options for working and that you have a little side hustle of your own. Signing up for companies like Postmates, Uber and Instacart can really help during the down times.
In LA you must have a reliable car or be willing to use rideshare companies to transport you everywhere you need to go. All auditions don’t happen in one central area and there’s some areas that don’t have metro services that connect. Traffic here is super unpredictable so make sure that you have a car or access to rideshare companies.
There is so much more of our story that I want to share with you in future articles, but until the next one, be sure to join our Facebook page, "Supportive Parents of Child Actors" where we have an incredible amount of resources, information and support.