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The terrible truth about working in the entertainment industry in Los Angeles

In spite of claims to the contrary, there are only two places for "show biz" in the United States: New York City and Los Angeles. And everyone who has ever had a dream, or stars in their eyes, and has gone there has come up against some pretty harsh realities.

I don't know anything about New York City, and I only know about Los Angeles because of my friends there. I was never involved in the entertainment industry, or "Hollywood", even though I lived in Hollywood briefly.

Yes, for a tiny percent of "stars", it's wonderful. There's big money in the movies, and some people make a LOT of it. You see their names on celebrity magazines, they can pick and choose their projects, they have agents that negotiate for millions of dollars. And then there's the rest. And there's a lot of other people.

I met these people when I lived in Los Angeles. If they're lucky, they're the "guy who was in that thing", getting regular acting jobs in bit parts in movies and TV. The less lucky ones still find work, and it's not just actors, it's everyone who's required to create that magic that we see on the screen. And the industry is a business, and every effort is made to keep the costs down. And that means that there are a lot of people who are asked to work long and hard for very little money. And since it's an industry that works from project to project, many people don't know if they'll ever work again, and many have multiple jobs, like the waiter at that restaurant you just went to.

LA has a huge population, and the entertainment industry is seen as a glamor job, no matter what you do. It makes for great stories to tell about being involved with a major motion picture, or a big TV show. But the rest of the story is pretty horrible. There's no job security, and whatever protection that different guilds offer is all too often "worked around" because of the particular urgency of a project (which they all are).

When I lived in Los Angeles, a lot of the people I worked with had head shots, and paid Screen Actor's dues, and went on auditions. Every once in a while people would ask me if I was going on auditions, and I thought "hey, maybe they think I should be a movie star!" But no, it's just something that everyone does, like putting a nickel in a slot machine, and hoping for the best.

Because I know about this, I prefer to not hear stories about Hollywood. They're all told the same way - through great trials and tribulations, and working all night, something was produced. Well, everything is produced that way in Hollywood, and most of it is a failure, and all of it is brutally hard on the human beings that do it.

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