The five rules you should know if you want to make it here…
My journey into the american market started April 18th 2014 when I finally had the Greencard in my hands and was about to fly to LA for the „Amerca’s Got Talent“ casting. For many months before that lucky day I have worked hard to make this dream come true: it took weeks to collect the necessary material that is demanded in order to obtain, maybe, a status as permanent resident of the U.S.
I then moved officially to New York as a first destination with the aim of getting jobs as contortionist and model (and hopefully one day actress) in this city. Little did i know about how it worked here and many mistakes misunderstandings and frustration were involved in the learning process. When you come from a small country with a small selection of options that you already successfully took and fulfilled, you have to go on jumping in that cold and unknown water or you get stuck in safe but artistically not really challenging patterns.
N° 1: It’s all about connections here!
Who you know and who knows you and who could maybe recommend you to someone out there that may have a job earlier or later. Back home I was used to simply call or write emails to people I wanted to work with and would eventually get an answer. But here even finding an agent or manager seemed to be impossible: if you don’t know the right people that can recommend you to the agency, they will not answer you. Just showing up at their office and presenting your work: a no-go! Desperation came up when I read these restrictions over and over again. Don’t call, don’t pass by, don’t…! And who in New York City would actually be the right person or agency for my particular needs as contortion artist and model with acting skills? I didn’t know where I should apply anymore. More desperation came up!
I then discovered that there are barely shows that I would fit in. Some shows with circus acts yes, usually mixed variety shows, barely paid, was what I found largely. My aim was clearly higher: NBA Halftime Shows, great Events, Galas, TV Shows and productions where my contortion skills were appreciated and well used. At the same time many offers from back home flew in and I was torn between waiting for my chance to come in the US and keeping my good reputation and foot in the market in Europe. So I started to travel between continents because I felt I needed more time to get into the US game. There were always small or bigger jobs coming up here and there, but I was getting nervous since the flow was missing and I would have paid a lot for the right connections. I was too impatient and blocked things coming towards me.
N° 2: Never expect a direct outcome from an investment!
That would be the lucky case but in reality you keep meeting and talking and sending your resumé out there with often no response. But what I learned next: sometimes when you don’t even think about getting an answer anymore, there might be that magical moment where someone gets to you and says: you are hired for the job / you are the right fit /I know someone you should meet…!
And little by little it happend. But success doesn’t come in your perfectly made up schedule, and you’d better be where you want to succeed in case the good job offer knocks at your door.
N° 3: Many people are talking good things and never do anything afterwards!
I heard tons of compliments and offers to work together, to do a collaboration or fake promises for getting a job. And later it turns out that there was no job, the so called „producer“ doesn’t even know how to write proper emails and the guy that says he is an agent and desperately wants you to work with him, is just a sleazy guy with many words and no actions…
Been there done that and it was exhausting. But what to do? Go on doing the best you can: showing your talent in as many places and shows and leaving people with a great impression about you. That’s still your strongest weapon!
N° 4: You are nothing without an agent or manager!
At least in the US. Go back to rule N° 1, it’s hard to find an agent, because they know what they are worth in the business. Back home I manage my business by myself and I know the game and am successful. Here, people would laugh at me when I’d have said that. It’s sometimes better to ask your friend to act as your manager, even if he has no clue about the business, than trying to deal with potential clients yourself. For my Swiss brain this sounds like a joke, but I tell you it workedJ
N° 5: NEVER GIVE UP!
You will learn very fast if this is really what you want to do in your life. You have just some sort of wishful dream and try a bit?…forget about it! This city costs too much money and time is precious. Come here and know what you go for! Yet be open for new possibilities cause they may come, and you obviously don’t want to be stuck in a stubborn plan.
What I do different now after almost 2 years:
- I say YES much more! Nobody will ever know about me when I am home on my laptop hoping for my chance to come. I must go where „the music plays“, because there will always be someone that knows someone…
- Don’t compare Europe with the US: the market, the payment, the way things are done or not, are very different. Never copy and paste and expect the same outcome. It’s not going to work.
- Expect going through a very long time of self-promotion until money comes in. Never forget it’s a new beginning and learning process. You don’t get attention when you don’t know the rules.
Last but not least:
My dream came true and I did a showcase on Times Square in New York City! Seen the fact that they don’t give out permits to perform there in the time of constructions, I am the luckiest person to have gotten one, and no, I for sure didn’t pay a fortune to get the spot, but I happen to have a management that obviously has the right connections… And where did I meet that manager? In a free showcase I performed together with a painter. Nothing glamourous and something I would have possibly have said no to do, if I wasn’t already a bit smarter about how it works in NYCJ…That manager saw my potential and we successfully started working together. It’s the new beginning! Imagine…