Film, Hipstercrite Life

The Los Angeles You Will Come to Know

It’s easy to love Los Angeles. It’s sunny and warm and exciting and big.

What is hard, is loving the Hollywood you experienced. It’s so much more enjoyable to revel in the Hollywood from movies, books, and media. The Hollywood you thought you were going into when you first decided to move to Los Angeles. The industry you thought you were going to conquer, or at the very least, never give up on.

Having worked in the film business off and on in Austin and my boyfriend being a local director and film professor, I meet a steady stream of people who are en route to Los Angeles. When you’ve experienced LA for yourself, and you’re talking to a young person who has limited concept of what the film industry in LA is actually like, it’s hard not to give your two cents. It’s hard not to sound jaded, regardless if your time there was good or bad. I can separate the joyous moments from the terrible that I experienced in LA and I can sum up that ultimately my time there was worthwhile. That still doesn’t mean there wasn’t shit and still doesn’t mean I have to do everything in my might not to tell a young person about it.

There was a time in Los Angeles that I never thought I would become this person. Everyone who gave up on the city just didn’t have what it took. I on the other hand did. At least I thought I did. I was determined to make it work. So determined that I was in complete denial about how miserable I was. Drinking home alone, going to a psychotherapist, yelling at my family, and alienating myself from friends at 21 should have been a clear indicator, but I refused to face it. Instead I thought that this is what adult life is all about if you wanted to be a success. In a way, I also thought it was romantic. I was a pretty little mess, right?

And so we’ve all heard my story before about how one day I realized I was not happy and that I needed to go somewhere else while I was still young and before it was too late and I picked Austin for the hell of it and that is where I’ve happily lived for the past three years. For two of those years, I missed Los Angeles terribly. At least I thought I did. Occasionally a vapid pang of regret would waft through me when I saw pictures of friends hanging with celebrities and attending film premieres and festivals (what I would come to find out is that Austin is a mini-Hollywood within itself, just without all the bureaucracy- which is both good and bad). Ultimately those aches would go away and I’ve settled comfortably into a life that I’m more than happy with. I get to still be involved with the business, but in a way that is more manageable to me and in a town that is more, for the lack of a better word, balanced.

Now I’m that 28 year-old who didn’t make it in Hollywood, who lives in a mini-Hollywood and who wants to warn the 21 year-olds going to Los Angeles what they are in store for. I want to tell them that you might just end up working in reality TV for the rest of your life just to pay the bills. I want to tell them that you take whatever jobs you can find and may never “get around” to directing/producing/starring in that great idea you always had. I want to tell them that beautiful or powerful men and women will act interested in you, but they don’t want you. In fact, they may just treat you like garbage. I want to tell them that your love life may suck ass. That your career maybe won’t enable you to have a healthy relationship. I want to tell them that it might be hard to discover who your true friends are, that it may take years in a city like Los Angeles. I want to tell them that every day could be a painstaking struggle and unless you really want it that badly, life is too short to deal with bullshit. Or I could tell them that maybe it will all work out OK.

But it is not my job to break their spirits. It is not my job to take away hope from someone’s dream. If you’ve decided that Los Angeles is a stop on your life’s road map, then you need to experience it for yourself. Otherwise you will regret it. When I was offered that job to work for an A-list celebrity at 20 years of age, there was no stopping me and no one tried to. My parents knew I had to take this chance and experience it. Ultimately I made up my own mind to move on. I regret neither decision- moving to Los Angeles or leaving it. And everyone has to figure that out for themselves.

Previous Post Next Post

You Might Also Like


  • Reply Dr Blood July 11, 2011 at 3:12 pm

    Hello. I've noticed several actor friends of mine have all recently moved to LA. I've got a feeling that they will come very unstuck but you can't educate pork, I suppose.

  • Reply Scott Tammaro July 11, 2011 at 6:24 pm

    A couple years ago the artist Fred Wilson of PBS ART 21 came to lecture art students at my college.

    For the first 20 minutes he basically broke down the whole BFA/MFA/move to NYC & become rich & famous mantra & instead shared the grim realities artists face, let alone those new to the scene.

    I can remember my school's administrators squirming in their seats as he spoke, yet his message never came near discouraging anyone from trying it.

    Straight up & noble I says.

  • Reply SweetBiscuits July 11, 2011 at 9:55 pm

    It is commendable for you to give these kids the cold hard facts. A dose of reality never hurt anyone and this might ease the sting of their first LA let down. You're story is exactly the same as mine but substitute art and NYC where you've mentioned the industry and LA.

  • Reply YoungUrbanAmateur July 11, 2011 at 10:57 pm

    I'll resist my usual urge to make this comment into a post of my own and actually comment this time…

    Things like this are good to hear… as you say, a lot of kids might not heed the warnings, but, with that aside, it's also weirdly reassuring to people who have been scared of LA, or just never tried. I sometimes think to myself, "Maybe I would have made it if I went to LA instead of NY," or even "Maybe I should just go start over in LA right now!" Stuff like this reminds me that it probably wouldn't be much easier to work in film over there.

    I also agree with @SweetBiscuits- even if some kids will ignore your warnings, this advice could still "ease the sting."

  • Reply Brooke Farmer July 12, 2011 at 7:20 pm

    God, I miss L.A..

    But then, I never held any Hollywood aspirations.

  • Reply Adria July 13, 2011 at 3:56 am

    As a someone who moved to LA just over six months ago, I can tell you that the best thing was knowing some of these realities before taking the 3,000 mile car trip and leaving the best city in the world for it (obviously, I'm talking about New York).
    I'm 25 now, and trying to stay outside of the realm of ego stroking and vapid praise for simply looking good, and keep on trying to do what I came here to do: act.
    I did move out here with a boyfriend who had lived and left LA once before, though, so I had insight that most aren't fortunate enough to have. Plus, I don't have to be a part of the god-awful dating scene, which sometimes I think is just networking with sex.

    And by the way, I'd give anything to be able to pack up and move back to NYC, but I have a mission to accomplish and that mission requires this vapid city that I sometimes don't hate so much…sometimes.

  • Reply Under Your Spell | Hipstercrite October 20, 2011 at 3:45 pm

    […] the LA in my head when I lived there, though it’s not the LA that actually exists. I’ve written about this way too many times before, so I will not rehash it too much. Or maybe I […]

  • Leave a Reply