Breaking into Hollywood: A Guide for International Actors

International-Actors-Student-Visa_banner-2Hollywood, the Mecca of entertainment, has become an increasingly popular destination for international actors looking to showcase their work on the world stage. Actors such as Penelope Cruz, Lupita Nyong’o, Javier Bardem, Sofia Vergara, and Michael Fassbender, to name a few, have had wonderful success breaking into Hollywood from abroad. However, many actors who are inspired to go for it are not informed when it comes to the reality of living, studying, and working in Los Angeles. This article should serve as a resource for those people and answer some of the most common questions the international actor faces when making this life-changing decision:

 

1. What should I do first?
Before taking the plunge and moving to L.A., the international actor wants to know what he or she has to do first before planning to relocate to this fast-paced and and exciting metropolis. Here are some suggestions. If you’re planning to study acting in L.A., you must find a school, such as Michelle Danner’s acting school, that has been approved by Homeland Security to provide students with an I-20 form. This form allows students to apply with their local consulate for a student visa. The I-20 form and M1 visa are required to live and study in the United States for longer than a month.
Once you’ve successfully applied for and received your visa, you’re going to want to make your travel plans. Here are some travel sites that will help you book flights, hotels, and car rentals: Travelocity.com, Expedia.com, Sidestep.com, Cheaptickets.com, Hotels.com. Before you fly, know that you are only allowed to check one piece of luggage weighing no more than 50 lbs./20 kg. If you want to check more than one piece of luggage or your bag is overweight, you will have to pay a fee. The fee depends on the airlines, so you’ll need to refer to the individual airline’s website to find out the amount.
You can buy anything and everything you will ever need here. So, you don’t need to pack your life. There are a number of superstores, markets, grocery stores, shopping centers, boutiques, etc. that are available to supply your every need. The shipping of personal items to the states can by costly, but here are a few sites to help you out: Fedex.com, UPS.com, DHL.com.

 

2. Where do I live?
You are going to have to find a place to live, plain and simple. If you don’t have a friend or family member with an extra bedroom or couch to crash on, you should look for an apartment to share or rent on your own. Depending on your lifestyle there are many places to live in walking distance from Michelle Danner’s acting studio. Studio apartments will cost between $850 and $1000 per month, one bedroom between $1100 and $1400 per month, and two bedrooms $1400 and up. Keep in mind, there may be additional expenses for utilities (gas, electric, water) and WIFI. This can add an additional $50 to $100 a month. Another cost is cell phone usage, which you can do pay-as-you-go for $40 to $50 per month or contract for $45 to $100 per month.
The best areas to live close to school are: Marina Del Rey, Santa Monica, Culver City, Mar Vista, Palms, Westwood, and Venice. Our community is known as a friendly, and safe rental area. While living expenses will vary depending on the student’s lifestyle, the student should be prepared to spend approximately $12,000 to $15,000 per year for rent, food and personal expenses. (Additional: spouse $4,000; child $3,000).

Here are some useful websites for finding an apartment to rent: Zumasantamonica.com, Roommates.com, Craigslist.com, Rent.com, Westsiderentals.com, ForRent.com. Please note when using the internet there are many scams out there. Be careful sending money ahead of time. Beware if you are not able to physically see the place and if the person says they live too far to show it.

 

3. Is it possible for me to do this?
The answer is yes. Los Angeles has a lot to offer the international student in terms of resources. This is a very inviting and hospitable place to live, and the majority of international students love living here and are able to thrive as visiting students. Of course, financial stability is a primary concern for anyone attempting to live abroad. It is best to have money saved up in preparation for any challenges which aspiring actors face. Another daunting obstacle to success in Hollywood for foreign students is the language barrier. While the actor’s English should be up to par, Michelle Danner does offer speech classes for those struggling with their accents.

This article has outlined some of the necessary steps to moving to Hollywood from overseas and making your start in the entertainment industry as an actor. We at Edgemar Center for the Arts, home of renowned acting coach Michelle Danner, welcome foreign students with open arms and will do our best to make your stay in Los Angeles productive, educational, safe, and fun! Follow the above suggested steps and you are on your way to becoming another success story on the world’s biggest stage for actors.

Film-Program_October_finalLearn more about Michelle Danner’s Acting Conservatory HERE.

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Michelle Danner
Michelle Danner Michelle Danner is a world-renowned acting coach, film and stage director, author, and teacher. She has worked with many A-list actors privately and on set. Teaching remains a passion and she teaches ongoing classes at the Michelle Danner Acting Studio housed at Edgemar Center for the Arts. Danner developed a technique for actors that encompasses concepts from Meisner, Strasberg, Adler, Hagen, Chekhov, and Stanislavsky. Additionally, she has being invited to teach her master class intensive, "The Golden Box," all over the world. As Artistic Director at Edgemar, Danner has pioneered many new works. "How to go Out on a Date in Queens" was her feature film directing debut with Rob Estes, Ron Perlman, and Jason Alexander. She also directed the feature film "Hello Herman" starring Norman Reedus (AMC's "The Walking Dead"), which opened nationwide and was distributed by Warner Brothers. She is putting the finishing touches on her acting book "The Golden Box," and is in post-production with her latest film, "The Bandit Hound," starring Catherine Bell, Joe Flanigan, Lou Ferrigno, Judd Nelson, Verne Troyer, Paul Sorvino and lots of dogs and kids.

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