by Ryan Kolbe
My intent with this article is to inform people who are thinking about transitioning from a “stable, 9 to 5 job” to an acting career in Los Angeles of the expectations they should set for themselves in going through the process. I have successfully made that transition, and because of that, I feel that I have a unique voice and perspective that similar articles do not share. I did my best to be transparent in explaining what I’ve gone through, and am going through – with the ultimate goal of providing insight and additional information for those who are thinking about making a similar leap.
My background is in sales and marketing. After graduating from college, I worked at the local NBC affiliate doing marketing and digital media sales for our station’s website. I then moved to a digital marketing company where I started off in sales, and then evolved into the creative side where I created content for the websites of more than a few Fortune 500 companies. The people I worked with were awesome, but I felt that I was on a very safe, linear path in the business world that I wasn’t really excited about.
While working at the digital marketing agency, I decided to try my hand at acting professionally as a secondary form of income. Growing up, I had always acted for fun, so I went to an open call at a local agency and immediately took to the agent. She had been working in LA for a number of years before moving back to the Midwest, so she was credible, and she decided to sign me. Over the course of my year-long tenure with that agency, I went on a handful of auditions, which helped me catch the acting bug more formally.
The difference between this and other articles is that I have not “made it” yet, and I’m still in the process of getting my footing after three years of forward progress. Full disclaimer: looking back, I’ve done a number of things “wrong,” and I’ll do my best to elaborate on how to “do as I say, not as I do.”
I’m fortunate that I am very close with my family. When I decided to leave my nice, safe job, to become an actor in Los Angeles, they supported me with hesitation. The hesitation was because it was unknown and new, and nobody we have known had ever made this kind of a move. With that said, you’re going to get a million opinions on how you should do things in your new career as an actor, and you’ll have friends who have done things a certain way, and you’ll hear stories about what has worked for friends-of-friends in their own journeys – but ultimately, take others’ opinions as research that goes into your own well thought out decisions. Rely on your gut first, and to your family and friends second, regarding what you should do because ultimately, although they have your best interest in mind and they’re “rooting for you,” only you can decide what the best path is for yourself. You’re the one who wants to move out here, not your family, so take their opinions to heart as people who care for you, not as people who necessarily know what they’re talking about.
My commitment to move to Los Angeles came about in September of 2010. I wanted to be here before the New Year, so the ball was rolling quickly. Though it was a huge decision, and a big leap from the safety net I was used to, I had what I considered a leg-up on some people for a couple different reasons. First, through my then-agent, I had participated in a one-day workshop with a manager from Los Angeles. After the workshop, my agent informed me that the manager offered to represent me if I were to move to LA. While that didn’t prompt my move, it helped to know that at least one person “in the business” believed in my abilities, and who might be on my team, should I move.