A Brit in New York - stay there or return to London?

Happy late St. Patrick's Day, or as my husband said yesterday, 'the holiday that's now an excuse to get drunk while wearing green.'

Most of the questions I get are from Americans wanting to come to London, but this one is a little different - a British actor who went to the USA and may want to come back:

Q: I am a British student studying acting at a conservatory in New York. After graduation, international students have the option to stay for a year to work in their field. I love New York but I feel like my accent will go against me here. I have a voice teacher and am working on it slowly but surely, I just don't want to spend another year here not working. What I want know is, will talent agents in London be receptive of my New York training? I do love London and want to come back but am not sure what my chances are to get representation in London. Please help.

A: Having not worked in New York, I can't know for sure if your British accent will work in your favor or not but it certainly makes you unique. And if you've got a good standard RP (if that's not your native accent) then you've got a big advantage over all those American actors with poor English accents. Of course for American roles you're doing the right thing by perfecting your American accent.

I understand your fear of not working after graduation but since you love New York I think you should stick it out for a year and seize this opportunity to work in the USA. So many British actors would love that chance but find it hard to get a visa. You've got one, I'm guessing you're young - so time is on your side. At the end of a year you can always come back to London and start again if things don't work out. Your New York training will be currency in New York (whereas it may not be as much in London although it depends on the conservatory), and I assume you'll have a showcase for industry people so you've got a head start. I'd embrace the American way of marketing yourself hard in the lead up to and after graduation - get a kick ass headshot, be aggressive about getting an agent, look for performance opportunities and let people know about them, write to casting directors and theatre companies or film production companies you're interested in - do everything you can, a little every day, to make your career happen. Maybe even ask your conservatory if they have any British connections for when you cross the pond again.

When you return to London, you'll have more experience and maybe even some American work under your belt. Your New York training may have value here in the UK but if it doesn't, you'll need to get yourself out there and show people what you can do - do a showcase (or five), find other performance opportunities, make a showreel if you've got the material and/or money - basically what you did in New York. If you have any UK actor friends, try and get a recommendation to their agent.

Bottom line, whether you stay in New York or come back to London, building a career takes time. Someone once told me five years in a new city. After training in the Big Apple you may have head start, but wherever you are you've got to make contacts, earn a reputation and do good work again and again. Wherever you choose to begin, commit to it 100%. New York, London - both are great cities so you really can't lose. Good luck and have fun.


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