Every aspiring actor or model reaches a point in their career where they ask the million dollar question: “should I move to a bigger city to pursue my dreams?” Although many people have made the jump to cities like Los Angeles or New York City and been tremendously successful, others have seen their careers falter when they are unprepared for the obstacles they will face. Mother-daughter duo Kelli and Erica Turner — the founders of Turner Talent — have worked with actors and models to successfully jump to a bigger city. They say there are a few pivotal keys to success.
1. Understand where you are moving
Actors and models must take into account the type of market they are moving to. Some cities focus on high fashion models, some on film and television, and others on lifestyle commercials and print. As such, it is important to research the talent market of where you are looking to move.
The Turners suggest considering moving to a city that isn’t too oversaturated with talent. “Everyone thinks they have to move to Los Angeles or New York City to make it big — but that is exactly the problem,” Erica asserts. “Other markets like Atlanta and Chicago have established and growing film industries with an increasing number of projects and fewer talent to fill the roles. Some cities, such as New Orleans, have a burgeoning industry and a significantly smaller talent pool, meaning there are even more good opportunities there.”
2. Consider any skills you may need to learn
As with any professional moving to a new city to look for a job, it is important to do substantial research on the market before making such a major commitment. “Spend time looking up what types of roles there are in the city you are interested in moving to, and what skills and qualities you might need to learn and develop to succeed,” Kelli suggests. “Research can help you develop a clear plan and be prepared for any obstacles that may arrive in your road to show business.
Actors should utilize any hobbies, skills or unique talents into their resume. “You’d be surprised how many castings we receive that are looking for specific abilities such as being able to play certain sports, having an accent or musical experience,” says Erica. “When talent can provide these particular requests, it creates a huge advantage for them to book.”
3. Do more than just perform
Performers would be served by learning more skills related to production than just acting or modeling. “Being a production assistant is a great way to get involved with film productions,” explains Kelli. “Even just being on set is a great way for aspiring talent to get their foot in the door and network with industry professionals. PA gigs can lead to higher-level crew jobs that allow you to make even more contacts for future jobs as an actor or crew.”
4. Have your supplemental materials ready
It’s also a good idea to have any necessary materials ready to go before you head to a new market. “Build your resume out in a way that looks professional, and have excellent photos ready for distribution,” Kelli suggests. “For models, create your promo packet, and for actors, make your demo reel. Having these high-quality materials ready before you even get to the new market will help prevent the feeling of being a ‘little fish in a big pond’ from becoming overwhelming.”
The Turners suggest trying to build up as much experience through work in the industry before leaving for a new market. “Regardless of where the credits are from, experience is experience,” Erica adds. “Have as many credits to your name as possible while the jobs are still less competitive, so you have the edge when you are in a market with more people that you must outperform to get the job.”
5. Have an established network
Furthermore, actors and models should try to have a support network in place before they move to a bigger market. “It can be much harder to find an agent or manager once you’re already in a new market and struggling to book jobs,” Erica explains. “Having these connections before moving could make getting castings and auditions significantly easier. Additionally, consider working with a talent development coach such as Turner Talent to provide the pre-existing connections you need to thrive in the industry.”
Choosing to move to a major market, such as Los Angeles, New York City, or any other big city, can be a massive investment in a performer’s future in the industry. However, like any potentially life-changing decision, actors and models should be prepared to handle the unique circumstances of their soon-to-be new home. Selecting the right city, doing the proper research, and having a strong network of connections and support will prime talent to not be overwhelmed by the shock of being part of a much larger pool.