By Elisa Arsenault
“Ugh!” You have tried to make it work in NYC… LA… Chicago… (fill in the blank with a major city w/ bustling film/tv/theatre scene… )
But you’re broke… or your mom is sick… (or fill in the blank with a legit reason that your life has taken an unexpected turn…) nervous breakdown, anyone?
The move out of the city might feel inevitable; it might feel like you’ve lost your independence, and it may feel like you no longer have a viable acting career…. That was me at 26! However, that time out of the city ultimately ended up serving my career and life in ways I did not initially anticipate.
I’d like to offer a few key steps to survive artistically during such a time.
Find a release – A confidence boost.
It can be tough to leave a thriving city with unlimited performance opportunities. You may go through periods of extreme emotions, mourning that independent, busy city-life. Find a healthy activity that helps you cope with extreme ups and downs. For me, I found positive endorphins through running. Other activities may include yoga, hiking, painting, songwriting, therapy, karaoke. What were the activities that kept you sane in your city life?
Pursue theater/film/tv opportunities in the area.
Share your experience and training with this new community. Research local performance groups and production companies and find a “way in,” whether it’s through readings, auditions, open mics or networking events.
Work is work, and in smaller communities, you may have more opportunities to be a big fish in a small pond. You may be seen for roles outside of your type and have the opportunity to stretch your acting chops; be gracious. The quality may not match what you were seeing on Broadway stages, but you may find projects that have the ability to enhance your craft and build your resume. A smaller market afforded me great opportunities to attain Equity status – something to consider if you are thinking of joining an acting union.
Check out local universities for further training. I trained with the head of a major grad school voice program for years, without the six-figure tuition bill; career-changing!
Focus on the task at hand.
If you moved away from the city to pay credit card debt, HUSTLE. Work as often as you need to pay those bills as efficiently as possible. If you moved to support a loved one, then do so full-heartedly. Be present. Don’t forget the importance of self-care (remember that endorphin, confidence-boosting activity). It will keep you facile and ready for the moment opportunity comes your way.
Tap into your network and be open to surprises.
If you have moved back to your hometown and have contacts there, let everyone know you’re back. Interesting opportunities may arise. I began teaching voice lessons and was able to tap into my family’s reputation in the area (my dad and brother are both music teachers). Think about what skills you have and the connections already in place to put them to work.
Create a clear vision and identify goals & milestones within that vision.
There is a reason you have left the city; keep that front & center, but remember to nurture your love of performing and continue the pursuit of your craft. Take some time to map out where you’d like to be in your career 1-3 years from now. As Dallas has shared time & time again, “reverse engineer it”. What is half of that goal (six months) and a quarter of that goal (three months)? Plan accordingly, and get into action. A thriving acting career IS possible outside of a major city.
But watch out, you might find that the fresh air and small-town living appeals to you more than you thought… you may not want to return to full-time city-living again! 🙂
For more on building an acting career from anywhere, download my FREE #GlobalActor GPS here.
Elise Arsenault is an actor, coach, and founder of The #GlobalActor. She offers private and group coaching for actors looking to book work and live life in multiple markets. Learn more at www.theglobalactor.com.