I’ve heard quite a few contrasting responses to this question. Some people advise not to move prematurely, i.e. not before ‘making it’ at home. Yet I’ve also heard there isn’t a rule on when to make the move as you’ll be starting out from scratch anyway, and all you need is patience and persistence to work your way up. Which one is right? Or are there elements of truth in both of these points?
I have to admit that a few years back I made a premature move, when I packed my bags and went to the USA. Even though I knew I first had to work on my English and get some professional training, which is something I started with, back then I didn’t know anything about showbusiness. I also knew nothing about the business side of acting. All I ever wanted was to act, but that was not enough as I had to learn the hard way.
Of course I spent a lot of time doing my research, but when you don’t know what exactly are you looking for you won’t find much. However, I’m now really glad I went, knowing it all or not, as it turned out to be the best way to learn about everything. If I had chickened out and stayed at home, I wouldn’t have gotten where I am now.
Despite making so many mistakes, I found that failing and learning from that experience can be a really good thing. I didn’t realise that few years ago and I thought that by now I’d have already ‘made it’. I couldn’t have been more wrong and naive. I just had a different way of thinking that has changed rapidly ever since.
Sometimes I get emails from the lovely readers of my personal blog Acting Abroad. Any time someone asks me if they should make the move, I tell them to go for it if it feels like the right thing to do. I think it’s always a good experience and learning opportunity, and you can never go wrong with that. I also tell them to think about where they are with their careers and what they are expecting from the trip.
I advise them to do their research and learn as much as they can from home before they move. Another thing I tell them is to save up enough money before they go or be ready to be creative and find other ways of staying abroad. I’m living proof that it is possible to go abroad without a lot of money if you really want to go, but it’s not easy and I had to make a lot of sacrifices. However, you won’t get far without savings.
One more thing I tell them from what I’ve learned: wanting something doesn’t mean we are ready for it. I’ve always wanted to move to L.A. and pursue an acting career there. When I was there, I was really focused on getting a visa, thinking that was all I needed to start acting. Only then I realised that despite wanting it so badly, I just wasn’t ready. I didn’t know enough about the industry or about the business side of acting and I had no contacts whatsoever. So by the time my visa expired, I decided to work on everything and go back one day when I know I will be ready.
I wondered: how am I supposed to learn everything about the industry? You may ask yourself the same question if you are like me, from a country where the showbusiness market is really small, hard to break into and all the information is kept between the folks who are ‘in it’. This is where getting out of your country can be a good decision, as well as a way of connecting with actors in the market to which you want to move. They can often advise you on what to read, where to find most of what you need to know and share their experience.
But let’s not forget that our paths are different; what worked for one of us, won’t necessarily work for the other. I think it’s important to focus on getting all sorts of experience rather than when are we going to ‘make it’. As long as we are getting better in what we do each year, we are succeeding. This approach not only takes the pressure off, but makes us much happier and focused on the right things.
Image: Cristian Ghe.