"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, February 17, 2013

Waiting Tables in LA

Liz writes:

I had a question... considering a move to LA in the coming months. Aside from your lovely "5 Things I Wish I Had Known/Done Before I Moved to LA" (and trust me, definitely working on a non-acting/non-waitressing, flexible/creative source of income), is it easy to get a serving job in LA (for an NYC-experienced server)? Are there any "better" (i.e. "working in West Hollywood is great!") or "terrible" (i.e. "family restaurants = FML") types of places? And what kind of tips/wages could I expect to earn? I know this type of stuff varies so much, but any information would be lovely.

Hi Liz! Thanks for reading!

First off, finding ANY job in LA is tough. Especially restaturants, and it's due to the acting trickle down effect: With less films being produced, and film actors like Zooey DesChanel, Kevin Bacon, Anjelica Houston, Glenn Close and a gazillion others needing to pay off their mortagage, film actors are taking television jobs. The up and coming actors who should have been booking those series regulars didn't, so they're taking the guest stars and recurring parts. The actors who used to take those jobs are now going back down to co-stars. The actors who should have been getting those co-stars, are the ones who were typically working the night shifts four times a week at a restaurant. So those actors are now keeping their restaurant jobs. The actors who have just moved to LA and are unemployed, should have been hired by the management when those co-stars started graduating to guest stars, but there's no jobs to fill. And there are a ton of actors who are going broke because they can't find a way to make money. 

Heart broken yet? But that's the way it is. 

When I was going to school in Orange County, I got a job the summer before my senior year at a chain restaurant so that when I moved to LA, I could simply transfer over there and have a job already waiting for me. 

Do I recommend that? Oh definitely! 

You being a NY server and having NY serving experience MIGHT help you. But you're probably also competing against hundreds of other LA actors with LA serving experience. 

And I don't know if NY does this, but a TON of LA restaurants will ask you to attach your headshot to your restaurant resume so that they "can remember who you are," but that's just bs to cover why they're really doing it: to make sure you're hot. 

As for how much money you'll make, as a server already you know that's an impossible question to answer. 

As for where the best restaurants are - that's also subjective. All I can say is that you need to find a place close to where you're going to live because even a job 11 miles away can take over an hour and a half to get to for your 4pm shift. 

If you're contemplating a move in the coming months, this is what I suggest: get a fine dining gig in your hometown IMMEDIATELY. Learn all the fine dining rules so you're easier to hire. Fine dining is more expensive food which equals higher educated, higher earning clientele, which means higher tips for your job well done. 

While you're at it, take a bartending class and get a bartending gig. Bartenders also make great money. Especially if you're hot and flirtatious. Sex sells alcohol. And food in LA, apparently.

Good luck, Liz!


  1. Great tips Lira! There's a lot of work in LA actually but the competition there is so tight. And the big question might be "Where should I start finding a job?" That is why I wanna share some lists of job that Liz might want to check in LA, see here Search for Acting Jobs in LA I hope it helps.

  2. I tried to moving to LA. Slept i nmy car for over a year and all my hard work got me an $11 hour gig at a call center in Long Beach. I slept in my car, got hotel rooms every other weekend, and never had enough money, gas, or time to pursue any of my dreams (music). I also saw what kind of place that was if you are a black male and I faced more blatant and indirect racism in LA than I did my WHOLE LIFE growing up in Georgia. Needless to say, I got out of there and gave up on my dreams. I now have a desk job in some other state, but will never forget the horrible way LA made me feel on all levels. It was even worse sleeping in my car off side streets in Hollywood, knowing I was mere blocks from royalty and luxury. Anyway, I wish i had found this blog before I was so much time chasing a dumb dream.


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