Recently I have been thinking more and more about Chicago- again, I know- and how I ultimately would like to settle down in Chi-town as a professional actor. Of course I was doing my semi-ritualistic viewings of Steppenwolf, The Goodman, Lookingglass, etc. and even apartment hunting in the Lakeview neighborhood (Wrigleyville, no less), but today I realized now more than ever I need to actually visit the city and get a feel for it.
I’ve read a million articles, blogs, and posts about how culturally wonderful it is, how you don’t need a car, the parks, museums, etc, and while that is alredy enough for me to pack my bags, I have got to get on a damn plane and see for myself. And guess what? I will have that time this coming Fall when I am not in school. See ya at the Biograph.
With all that said, I was having a wonderful lunch at the Moat today with an alumn of UCF Theatre named Jenny A. and her fiance. Now, Jenny is a beautiful, fantastically talent actress, with a lot of insight on the business and what she offered to us today was the conception of location. After she graduated (in 2005) she moved striaght to Los Angeles, she did have a connection, and was able to find a career on the boards. Right now, however, she spends a lot of her time in New York and does agree that if you want to do theatre do not move to LA. Everything else though, she dispelled quite passionately.
I’be heard it before and I feel like every young actor has as well: New York is too hard, you can’t break in, and Chicago is where you’ll be able to make a name for yourself. Too which, Jenny said, “Screw that.” She drove home a very good (and obvious) point that I hadn’t fully realized yet.
NO WHERE IS IT EASY.
Acting is extremely hard no matter what city you’re in and most of the time, whether it’s in New York, L.A., or Chicago, it’s going to be who you know and being in the right place at the right time. How classic an idea. Someone then brought up they heard that if you rack up a lot of Chicago credits they won’t “transfer” to New York. Her retort was, they hey, if you’re good enough to get those credits then you’ll impress them in the NY room. Another terrifically obvious revelation!
Also, she said it is a lot of “schmoozing”, but the trick with that is to know what you are talking about. Don’t be phony, be honest. Every producer and director at the after party is going to assume that you’re another dumb actor and that you don’t realize they just produced Rent. Her advice, therefore, is to do your homework and surprise them with your vast knowledge of current goings-on in the film and theatre world.
With all that said, it’s a small world and an even smaller business, so be friendly, HONEST, dedicated, and patient- good things come to those who wait, no matter what city you’re in.