In January 2014 I decided to take a 'Sabbatical' and concentrate entirely on my own art and further my learning outside the beautiful distractions of London. What a different but already beneficial experience. (May I add with hardly any muller in my pocket, I decided one month before leaving :S )
I first went to New York, crashed head first into doing a course at Actors Connection in Times Square, meeting Casting Directors and Agents not fully aware of what I was aiming for. My only aim was to experience what the acting industry is like in New York.
In the freezing cold of winter for the first month I stayed in the Bronx in an artist/ activist loft which included a family. (There was no heating! I fucking hardened up : ) Here I strangely learnt the beauty of activism, how much activists freely give to their own community without asking anything in return. I started my fascination with Native American culture, even taking my first Grandfather ceremony; this is thanks to Har and Yoko for introducing me to this world and also the wonderful music!
I then moved into Greenpoint Brooklyn for two weeks and Prospect Park, Brooklyn for another two. How the hell did I afford this? With luck, love and a patient English friend. New York is a crazy, inspiring, money sucking hot pot. I was able to share with a good friend a bed, cutting costs dramatically, meet wonderful people who let us stay in their apartment for free and look after a dog while a couple was away on holiday, allowing us to stay in another funky apartment by the park (bliss) - Somehow those two months was possible; and in that time I absorbed as much cinema (i hardly ever go to the cinema), acting workshops, cafes and art galleries - more posts to come with what I found.
For me New York and London really are sister cities. Although similar genes, similar energy and diversity, the results are different. Some wonderful and some made me appreciate my London. I say my London now with more pride. I have realised what a inspirational, resourceful and free city London is. In free I mean monetary free, you can enjoy many things in London from galleries, events, parties all at no cost; something I took for granted until visiting New York.
I wondered whether I could work as an Director in New York, and I would love to, but the funding and government support (although of course we moan with reason) is not like it is in England. This is something we need to appreciate more.
From a born and bred New Yorker to you I give you three simple rules which I now keep with me:
1. Pay attention.
2. Always have a back pocket plan.
3. Never let them see you sweat.