Even if you live as close by as Orange County or Central California, if you intend to be a Hollywood actor, you will most definitely need to move to L.A. There is no good way to establish a career long-distance; it simply doesn’t work for a novice.
No matter where you live, be it the Mid-West or the North-East, or even if you’re in a foreign country, the logistics of making this move will be the same.
If you possibly can, you should try to make a short trip to L.A. – maybe only a week or two – to get the lay of the land and start mapping out the areas of town that appeal to you as a potential new home. For most out-of-towners, the vastness of Los Angeles is a bit unexpected, no matter how much you’ve heard and read about it. (It reminds us of our first trip to Rome. Nothing and no one had ever prepared us for the enormity of the Vatican. It was beyond imagining!)
So! Get yourself a map. No, not the kind you find online and no, not even a Thomas Guide. A good, reliable, unfold-it-and-lay-it-out-on-a-table map. No matter where you live, you can easily obtain one of these. Spend some time “navigating” this city and learning the names of the various little “towns” that all merge into one, great big region. The San Fernando Valley, for example, includes Sherman Oaks, Studio City, Van Nuys, Encino, Tarzana, North Hollywood, Valley Village, West Hills, North Hills, Sylmar, Panorama City, Pacoima, Northridge, Canoga Park (shall we stop now?), etc. Yes! Etcetera! Even though there is absolutely no physical separation between all of those places (from an airplane, you can’t tell where one begins and the other lets off), there is definitely a difference in, shall we say, style from one part of The Valley to another.
For purposes of being centrally located for your work as an actor, The Valley is a pretty good place to start your search for a place to live. On your lovely map, locate the Ventura freeway (that’s the 101 to you). Then locate the San Diego (405) and Hollywood (170) freeways, which run into the 101. We’d say that if you can stick to within 2-3 miles of those freeways, you’ll be able to easily access all of the casting houses and studios within The Valley and Hollywood.
Here’s a practical idea for you: The Oakwood Apartments are located near Universal City, which in turn is located near the branching off of the Hollywood and Ventura Freeways. VERY convenient. They offer short-term stays in fully furnished apartments and have been a haven for out-of-town actors for decades. It’s a great place to use as a home base, while looking for a more permanent arrangement. Check it out at www.oakwoodtoluca.com.
Another big destination for actors will be Culver City – not necessarily to live, but it’s home to a number of studios and many casting directors. It is not near The Valley, but it is near the 405 freeway. That same freeway will lead you fairly close to Santa Monica – not the beach – the city, where many casting companies (particularly for commercials, for some reason) are located.
Now, we know that most people from out-of-state think that living near the beach would be a dream come true. Well, maybe if you’re independently wealthy and don’t mind having your limo driver take an extra 30 minutes to drive you to your auditions. Nice as it may be, the closer you get to the ocean, the costlier everything becomes and the less convenient to get to and from. We’d suggest that you wait until your first million dollar check arrives before attempting to live there. But then, that’s just our opinion.
On a side note: Public transportation is definitely not L.A.’s strong suit. We sincerely hope you don’t intend to use it to get to auditions, because you may as well leave home 3 or 4 hours early (and have very good walking shoes) in order to reach your destination on time. It’s really imperative that you have a car.
Once you’ve gotten the lay of the land from your map, start googling information about the places that seem right for you. Remember – you’re doing all of the pre-move research work from home. It’s costing you next to nothing, but it may ultimately save you a lot of money and wasted time, simply because you will come to Hollywood prepared for action and that’s going to be a great feeling!