If you are an artist, and you want to "make it big" you have to live in either New York City or Los Angeles full time. This isn't relevant for celebrities, but for those of us in "the trenches", its still the 2 cities we have to choose from.
Yes, this is changing, very very slowly with self taping and many production companies filming TV series and films in other cities like Atlanta.....but still, Los Angeles and New York are the cities you have to choose from if you are serious about the entertainment industry.
I lived in New York City from the time I was 18 years old. When I was about 6 months pregnant with my first child, my husband and I were visiting Los Angeles and had brunch with the awesome actress Julie Bowen. Julie and I became friends when we worked together on ABC's BOSTON LEGAL.
She is quite honestly one of my career idols. Authentic and awesome, and my advice guru. I was rambling on trying to figure out if I should move from New York (where I had worked on Broadway but work was slow) or if I should move to LA (where I had worked a lot in TV and Film) and to try to expand my TV and Film resume? My mouth dropped open when she all of a sudden said,
"Fuck the business, where do you want to LIVE!"
My husband Dustin and I both laughed out loud in a shocked chuckle. But this blunt reply was exactly what I needed to hear. She went on to explain herself, but that reply had so much honesty to it that I constantly refer back to it when I'm thinking about my life, not the business, but my LIFE.
Honestly, Julie has 3 kids of her own, she could see I was about to have a child, I was tired of the "hustle" and I wanted to just settle down into a house with a yard and raise my kids in my home state of California. Now, Julie has had many hit series under her belt (including the one she's currently on Modern Family) so she could've not related to what I was rambling on about, just sat there, listened and nodded and from her perspective said "Los Angeles is great! Move here". But no, she looked me straight in the face and with this exuberance of energy said
"You've decided your whole adult life where to live based on the entertainment industry so, I say fuck the business! Don't think about that. Think about where you want to live! Be happy! Then the work will come. Focus on where you want to raise your family and let the business be secondary for once."
She was right. In my entire adult life I had never thought that way. I have always lived where it was best for the entertainment industry. I moved across country at the age of 18 to NYC because I wanted to "make it", I traveled to and from Los Angeles for 8 years to audition for Pilot Season, I rarely took vacations anywhere. Now I love the energy of both of these cities, but in my latest 30's and about to be a mother.....that energy shifted and I realized....
Everything in my life revolved around the business.
I always knew when I had kids that I didn't want to settle down on NYC. Nothing against people that do, I just never wanted to raise my child in a large and harsh city, unless I had the money to do so. I think in the trenches of that city, you grow up so fast. I just wanted my kids to have a simple suburban childhood with a house and backyard with a swing set. Not have Central Park as their backyard and have to navigate the subway to school. Of course NYC is very different if you have money, lots of money, but I don't and for those of us who don't....raising children can be rough.
After that brunch with Julie, my husband and I went back to NYC and I gave birth to our beautiful son. We weren't sure what we were going to do, but we stayed for 3 months and finally.....the harshness of the city got to both of us. The straw that broke the camels back was waiting 30 minutes in the hot stuffy station for the subway to come with my screaming newborn in my arms. It broke my heart. Then finally we got on the subway and a couple shady people tried to touch my baby.
I had it!
I wanted a "normal" life with my child. I use the word normal loosely, and again in no way mean to offend those who do live and thrive in New York City. I just knew in my gut that I wanted to be able to securely lock my child into their car seat and drive with air conditioning and have some control over my transportation. Go home to a spacious place with a backyard and a swing set. I just think after 20 years, the NYC subway system just finally pissed me off one last time.
But the point is.....your gut is your compass.
You need to constantly check in with yourself. Check in and see if you are truly happy and thriving? I'm not saying Los Angeles is the answer to New York City. Maybe for you its doing awesome regional theatre in a small town? This is up to you and to what your compass is telling you.
And just because you don't live in New York City or Los Angeles.....know that you are still an artist. You are still awesomely talented. You are still thriving. Sometimes, you have find when its right for you to say to yourself "Fuck the Business" and find out where you want to LIVE...in the most authentic and loving way.
These are confessions of my life as an actress working on Broadway, TV and Film for 20 years
Copyright 2017 M Patterson