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8 Best Cities for New Actors to Call Home


After graduating from a drama program, the next logical move is, well, to move. Choosing where to live as an actor is an age-old query. For decades, masses have pointed to LA for TV/film hopefuls and New York City for theater people, but the answer now is more nuanced than ever before.

Funneling down from the most obvious choices to smaller ponds you may not have considered, here are 8 wonderful cities in America to live as an actor:

 

New York City, NY

“N.Y.C.! Just got here this morning…Three bucks. Two bags. One me.”

Though the music of “Annie” was written in the 1970s, the dreamy feel of its soaring solo from “N.Y.C.” still rings true today. New York City is more viable for entertainers than ever, not only touting Broadway and Off-Broadway opportunities, but a glittering list of TV and film productions as well. 

The bottom line:

If your ultimate goal is theater and you enjoy the hustle and bustle of a big city, New York City is the perfect option. There’s obviously plenty of world-class arts to soak up in your downtime, and actual classes to take to brush up on your craft. Just remember that you’ll be diving into a very crowded pool head first. It’s also fairly expensive, though surrounding options like Astoria, Queens or Jersey City can be fruitful.

 

Los Angeles, CA

LA is another city synonymous with acting. While you may be ready to give Mr. DeMille that close-up, there are many things to consider before moving to the world’s entertainment hub. First of all, Mr. DeMille has passed away. Second, what are your goals?

The bottom line:

While TV and film productions cast and shoot all over the world now, Hollywood is still the sparkling center. If you’re specifically looking to break in as a TV day player or enter the sitcom world, more opportunities will be offered in LA. Of course, like its East Coast sibling, the market is incredibly saturated. You won’t be able to throw a stone without hitting an actor (but never throw stones). When struggling with the ongoing debate between New York and LA, a simple decision maker is comparing the vastly different environments with your preferences.

 

Las Vegas, NV

Viva las actors! Las Vegas is an iconic city that boasts all kinds of opportunities. While many think of the casino-littered strip as touristy glitz and glamour, it’s a world-class entertainment destination at its heart. 

The bottom line:

Vegas offers a slightly smaller pond for actors to get work, from live shows to film productions. The area is also much more affordable than New York or LA, and offers a variety of fun survival jobs like working at a casino. It’s in the desert though, so make sure you like the heat!

 

Atlanta, GA

Another unsurprising option, the TV and film industry has been booming in Atlanta thanks to tax incentives. From Marvel films to Netflix shows, this state has some peachy opportunities for creatives. 

The bottom line:

Here’s another slightly smaller pond, with a more affordable housing market. While you’ll get to see and feel changes of the seasons here, be aware that summers tend to be very muggy!

Read More: How to Become an Actor in Atlanta

 

San Francisco, CA

San Francisco doesn’t always get the golden acclaim it deserves for its arts. Just under a six-hour drive to LA, this unique city offers a little bit of everything, including a thriving arts scene.

The bottom line:

There’s a large network of actors to connect with in the Bay Area. While the actual city itself is expensive, you can find more affordable surrounding neighborhoods. Culture and nightlife are pulsing, as with most of the cities on this list, and the weather remains mild for most of the year.

 

Chicago, IL

All right, funny people! It’s your time to shine. If comedy is your calling, Chicago could be a wonderful option to consider. Home to some of the most well-regarded comedy clubs and schools in the world, this city has offered stars like Melissa McCarthy and Tina Fey fertile ground to grow. In addition, there’s a major TV/film presence. 

The bottom line:

This is the less popular sibling of New York and LA, with many considering it a smaller pool. With tons of art to take in and be a part of, actors certainly won’t lack opportunities here. Of course, there’s a reason why it’s dubbed the “Windy City,” so beware of cold gusts!

 

Stamford, CT

Venturing into our more off-the-beaten-path suggestions, Stamford is a quick 45-minute train ride into NYC’s glittering Grand Central Station. Connecticut has quietly maintained a flourishing arts scene for years, with some of the world’s most prolific actors making a home for themselves there. In recent years, it’s become a mini Hollywood of sorts, with major productions filming throughout the state.

The bottom line

If you’re looking for slightly cheaper options, and not a fan of the concrete jungle, Stamford and surrounding towns have got you covered. The local theater scene is hoppin’ with historic stages like Westport Country Playhouse (everyone from Paul Newman to Liza Minnelli has performed here) and Downtown Cabaret Theatre (where Kelli O’Hara got her equity card), and TV/film projects are getting more and more frequent thanks to production company Synthetic Cinema International. Plus, you’re close to the beach!

 

Austin, TX

If New York and LA are too expensive, and Chicago is just too dang windy, Austin could be your happy place! They say everything is bigger in Texas, but that is simply not true when it comes to the acting pool. For this reason, a city like Austin could be a good place to start. Known as a vibrant artist’s hub with major annual events like SXSW, opportunities are there across various mediums.

The bottom line:

If you’re looking to break into commercials, this could be a smaller market to start in. Commercial opportunities are the most bountiful Texas venture, though a revolving door of TV/film productions does exist. This could be considered more of a training-wheels spot for actors looking to build their resume before trying a larger market, and thanks to its major universities, actors will find they can also cut their teeth on lots of student film and low-budget projects. You may actually find that you fall in love with the quality of life, which has a lot to offer outside of solely entertainment opportunities.

 

Conclusion: 

Overall, your location still matters, but not as much anymore. The current industry is a double-edged sword in that an aggressive move toward self tapes gives casting directors access to a wider pool of talent than ever before. Of course, for theater and the fast-paced world of television, which offers co-star and smaller roles, your location could make or break your contract. Think about your goals and what location would most allow you to meet them. If you’re able to, try out various cities until you discover the best one for you. In the end, it’s about finding a place that offers opportunities, allows you to create an artist’s network and, most importantly, makes you feel at home.

 

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Robert Peterpaul is a writer, podcaster and performer, who can be seen in films like IFC's “King Cobra,” T-Mobile ad campaigns, and TV shows like CBS' “BULL.” He currently hosts the hit podcast The Art of Kindness with the Broadway Podcast Network. Other writing and hosting highlights include: NBC’s “Access Hollywood” and “America’s Got Talent,” “BUILD Series,” the Huffington Post and serving as the Weekend Editor for HOLA!/ HELLO! USA for six years. He also co-founded his family’s nonprofit the Thomas Peterpaul Foundation, which aims to end pediatric cancer. Robert has studied at the Barrow Group, Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute, UCB and earned a B.A. from Marist College. Thank you for reading and keep following your bliss! www.robertpeterpaul.com