"The label you give yourself cannot impact external forces that are not motivated by your own psychology or influenced by a third party's pre-existing consciousness of you. We are all presented with reasons to struggle which come from completely external forces; to pretend that one is not struggling is either arrogance or an admission of defeat. To admit that one is struggling is a sign and a source of strength." - Evan A. Baker

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Stay the Big Fish

I'm a decent resource for our Neighbors Up North:
Hi Lira!

Just read your blog for the first time today, and I've been finding it helpful, so I thought you could provide a knowledgeable opinion on something that's been bothering me. I'm 20 years old, living in Vancouver, Canada. I've just returned from an amazing 2 year stint in London, England, and I'm thinking it's about time to sort my life out. I'm, taking a Screenwriting course at Vancouver Film school (a really great program) and am thinking about moving to LA shortly after to pursue acting and writing. I've been acting from the age of 12 or so, represented by a wonderful agent here in Vancouver for a year when I was 17 (just before the move). The industry here was generally taking well to me, and I was making steady progress with casting directors. Anyways, it's been a couple of years, and there have been a few changes.
Along with me having gotten a bit rusty, I also have two tattoos on the inside of my arm. One is tiny and just above my wrist, and the other is larger, about 3 inches in diameter, just below my inner elbow. They are not visible when i have my arms straight down, but I'm afraid they'll put me in a "bad girl" niche.. I feel that my range is much larger than that and was wondering if you think casting agents would find my ink difficult to overcome.
Also, considering the industry here in Vancouver, do you think it would be wiser to establish myself here, and then potentially make the move? Or just go for it? Vancouver is many things and one of them is BORING. I'd much prefer living in LA, but I don't think I'd be willing to risk my career for it. 

I know it's a pretty loaded message.. but any help or words of wisdom would be greatly appreciated. I've just come back into the real world after spending 2 years partying with the best of them, and am most definitely having a crisis!

Thanks so much! 

Hi Kristina! Thanks for reading. 

I'm going to address the tattoos first:  I'm glad you have found a way to express yourself with art. Tattoos usually are symbolic of something or someone who mean or meant a lot to us. I think they're great.

And a lot, and I mean thousands of actors have them. I once worked on a music video with Elton John (cause I be's fancy!) that took place in the 1950s with an all female band. The violinist had two full sleeves of tattoos on her arms. Was it a problem? Not at all. The makeup artists covered the art up with tattoo covering makeup and wardrobe added see through chiffon sleeves to her dress. Her tattoos were not an issue, and every makeup person and wardrobe stylist has tricks to erase them. They're expected.

I would suggest that you wear a character appropriate layer to hide them (long sleeves, cute sweater, etc) if you want to hide them, and when you're hired for a gig and you get the call sheet, call the makeup artist to warn them of your tattoos and placement, and when wardrobe calls you for sizes,  give them their heads up.

Bottom line: Tats are not a problem. Be proud of them. They're yours.

As for moving to LA...

It sounds like your biggest fear is coming down here and having no career. And that is a valid fear to have. My advice is to always, always STAY a big fish in a little pond. A ton of tv shows are still produced in Vancouver and it's wise to get on as many shows (either as an actress or writer!) in Canada as you can. Book your guest star roles, book your recurring and Series Regular roles up there, and eventually (if not now), you'll be put on tape for LA pilots, and they'll fly you down for callbacks and screen tests.

You're young. You're 20. You probably look younger. You probably pass for TV 16 or younger. So book those younger roles and work, work, work up in Canada for as long as you can. LA is a crap shoot. You already have credits up there, and the casting directors who come across your resume know the shows you've been on, and already know you. No one in LA knows you yet and don't know the shows you've worked on since we don't get much Canuck television. Work the relationships you've been forging since you were 12 and give it another five years to make your money and re-evaluate what you want. Write scripts and see if you can sell them in the Canadian market, or heck, make the stuff yourself.

It's hard to be patient, trust me, I know, but that's what I recommend. 
And is Vancouver REALLY boring? Maybe you haven't found the cool underground things yet.  Since you said you were rusty, get into a few acting classes and make new actor friends. Explore your community by yourself and with your new friends and live life to the fullest. Check this out and do some of those things.

Be a big fish in a market that already knows you're a reliable, talented actor. Moving here now means your starting at 0, and there's no need for that. 

I'll see you in a few years. 

The winters are marvelous!


  1. Thanks for taking the time to get back to me.. Very sound advice! I think I needed to hear that from someone who doesn't want me to stay in Van for their own motives...

    And yeah, that website's definitely there for a reason!

    All the best,


    P.S: I wish I played younger.. my range generally goes from my age up a few years.. which was actually a bit of a problem for castings before I was a legal adult! Could never pull off the Disney vibe :P

  2. Kristina, new hair cut? Colour?
    Good luck!

  3. Thank you for this, Lira! I'm from Tampa, Florida which has a great theater industry and a growing film industry (not to mention about 4 theme parks close by. Hello, Disney World!). In the last two years, I have been booking a lot of film work and I've made some great connections. I've also been in the same boat as Kristina for a while now and have been debating whether I should stay in the Southeast or just bite the bullet and go to LA. I've had mixed feedback, but I feel that the FL/GA/NC region is better for me in terms of getting me where I want to go. Most people wouldn't believe it, but you have a better chance in a smaller industry and working your way up towards the bigger industry if you are talented and good at forging relationships. Not to mention that we have more advanced technology and it's easier to put yourself out there. It's all about working smarter and not harder, I think. Thank you again for posting this. I feel more confident with my decision and I'm glad there is someone with the LA experience who feels the same way.

    And your headshot is beautiful, by the way!


Play nice.