When you aspire to work in Hollywood, it’s hard not to be seduced by the promise of a highly Instagrammable lifestyle: the luxury of getting paid to be creative, the photogenic people on red carpets and the fans who adore your work.
But navigating a career in the entertainment industry can be confusing — especially if you don’t have connections — because there are countless pathways and no guarantees.
In June, The Times launched its guide to entertainment industry careers to help demystify one of the most popular industries in Los Angeles. In these articles, we ask people working in Hollywood what cold, hard truths newcomers need to know in order to make smart, practical decisions about their careers.
We also explain what a lot of the jobs are. Every film and television show displays a long list of them, a nod to every single person it took to bring that vision to the screen.
We hope you’ll continue telling us what you want to know about working in Hollywood so we can help you find answers. Here’s some of the best pieces of advice we’ve heard so far.
Finding a community is key to booking jobs (and also staying sane)
Hollywood is still all about whom you know, but arguably more important than meeting showrunners, casting directors and producers is building a solid network of friends.
You can find your community of creatives in many ways — such as through classes, events, small theaters, advocacy nonprofits, film festivals or social media — but ideally you make friends while you work on projects and you all move up together.
People like Gennifer Hutchison (who gave advice on how to become a TV writer) and Shaz Bennett (who shared how to get a job as a TV director) told us that the group of assistants they befriended as newcomers in the industry are still the people who support them (and sometimes give them jobs) today.
People you come to trust will also be the ones who can help you spot scams and manage your mental health. It’s a rough industry, full of extreme highs and lows. Rejection is the norm. You’ll need friends.
Learn by doing (which sometimes requires volunteering your time or investing your own money)
The reality of the industry is that it’s so competitive that it’s often hard to make money until you have proven you have the skills to be hired for a paying gig. So if you’re an actor, you might have to start acting in student films for free to create …….