Join A Group And Create A New Family

LA is one of the busiest most overpopulated cities in the world. As such, it’s really hard when you first move there -- especially if you don’t know anyone. The first week you arrive in the city, one of the best things you can do for yourself, is to find some groups to join, and create a new family.

Joining an acting, improv, or cold reading class, will immediately help you learn the ins and outs of the LA professional acting scene. In these classes, you will meet folks who’ve lived in LA all their lives as well as actors of all ages and ethnicities, who’ve recently arrived, just like you! Joining an acting class, and maybe auditioning for a local LA theater production, are some of the quickest ways to make new acting friends.

One thing that will surprise you is how willing people are to help newcomers. I think this is because THEY were also new to LA once -- that -- and they’re just happy to meet someone new themselves, someone who’s not burnt out over the whole industry -- someone happy and fresh and excited about life! Just remember that hanging out with “LA Newbies” is fun and energizing to those of us who’ve lived and worked here for awhile. So don’t feel intimidated or inexperienced when you meet more experienced actors or film professionals. Take a big breath, and go ahead and ask them if you can buy them a cup of coffee or lunch, in exchange for some free advice about life in LA. It’s done all the time -- and in fact, it’s expected. It’s called NETWORKING and it’s the most natural, normal thing in the world! As my wise mother, Kathy, told me once: "You'll only regret the things you DON’T do.”

I also recommend joining a church or faith based community group if you can. Why? Well, even if you aren’t the most God-seeking person in the world, finding a place to let your down your guard once a week can really bring some serenity and soulful inspiration into your otherwise hectic new life. It will also help you meet people who are locals, people who are older and more mature than you. Having some older friends in LA is a must. It keeps you centered and reminds you that the whole Hollywood Industry thing is a media illusion. And for me, having "faith" and learning to put some of my insecurities and anxieties in the hands of a "higher power" kept me sane through some very trying times in my career; and I’d recommend exploring that side of yourself anyway, especially if you’re an Artist.

If you’re not a traditional church (or Synagogue or Mosque) goer, then maybe you’d be smart to join some kind of 12 step self-help program... I myself went lots to Al-Anon meetings in Los Angeles. Al-Anon isn’t the same as Alcoholics Anonymous. Al-Anon is a weekly 12 step program for people affected by, who are living with, or working with Alcoholics. My father had this disease, and I found that going to Al-Anon really helped me learn to let go of my anger and deal with my depression over not having the perfect Dad. I also met some wonderful friends in those meetings, and they helped me get on with my life. The 12 Steps also made me a much deeper actress! Whatever your past issues may be, don’t feel bad. We all have them.

I also recommend getting involved with some kind of social activist group if you have time. Political Action groups, or non-profit humanitarian groups, are great places to make interesting new friends in LA. One of my screenwriter friends is a member of the LA, Human Rights Watch. She has the coolest friends of anyone I’ve ever met in LA!

Another great way to meet people, especially for actors, is to volunteer for one of the Film Festivals, or Awards Ceremonies held every year.. There are so many: LA IFP Film Festival, LA IFP Independent Spirit Awards, Outfest -- the LA Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, The Hollywood Film Festival, Silverlake Film Festival, etc...! Or volunteer for your favorite Museum, Symphony, or political campaign. (And of course, you will HAVE to join a Gym! But that’s a given!)

There are so many ways you can enrich your life as an actor, in LA, and make new friends, and feel like you have a whole new supportive family around. I encourage you to try something new! Like I said, "You'll only regret the things you DON'T do!" Go for it!

About Kirsten Tretbar

Kirsten Tretbar is an acting teacher, filmmaker, and former actress. She received her MFA in Acting from USC in Los Angeles, where she acted professionally for many years.

Los Angeles + Kansas City