I was 18 when I first set foot in Los Angeles. I was on a road trip with my family and I didn’t see much but the horrible tourist sites, yet I knew I’d be back one day, to pursue my dreams of being a Hollywood actress. And I did go back. At 19 I took off on my own to spend a summer in LA doing acting classes. I had the time of my life and returned at 20 to do the same thing. At 22 – after attaining my BSc and working full-time for a year – I returned again, this time for eight months in pursuit of an agent and O1-B visa. It didn’t work. At 23 – after one final three month trip and nine months of waiting – I finally moved to the promised land.
Last August 17 I turned 31. That means I now have known many aspiring actors in Los Angeles for over 13 years. This realization more or less coincided with the news of one of them booking a series regular role in a sitcom. Of just one of them having that elusive proverbial breakthrough. I started thinking: what has happened to all the other aspiring actor friends I’ve met over the years? What do the lives of these dedicated dreamers look like after 10+ years in LA? Wouldn’t that be interesting to share? We read the succes stories of actors who made it plenty. But that’s not a very representative sample. What happens to the the ones not in the news? To the other people that packed up their lives into their car and drove from Ohio to LA? The other people who went through the im-migraine-tion process to get the O1-B visa? The other people who left everything they knew behind for a chance to be a working actor?
Of course, I can’t claim to bring a completely representative sample either, as I’m sure I myself have been a biased selection tool while navigating LA. A Dutch girl on a pink motorcycle with ladybug helmet isn’t for everyone, after all. On top of that I switched from acting to writing pretty quickly after moving to LA.
But I can give you a more complete picture than what the stories of successful actors in the news paint. I can tell you what happened to the people I met in all those acting, improv and audition classes. The people I bunked with in dorm rooms of dingy guest houses. The people I met at casting director workshops, networking events, or through Facebook groups. Even on OkCupid dates.
I can tell you what happened to my friends.
So, here it goes…