This blog is not about acting. I made that very clear in my first post- I don’t want to talk about acting because I am writing to talk about anything other than acting.
However, my flight benefits do come in handy with my career choice, and I milk it like crazy.
There’s a program I’ve worked/studied with for 5 years in New York City called Broadway Artists Alliance. The program auditions kids from around the world and accepts them for Master Classes and Sumer Intensives with Broadway instructors. At the end of every week-long session, there’s a showcase in front of an industry panel. The students get to go up one at a time, introduce themselves to the panel, and either sing 16 bars of a song or perform a monologue for them.
Whenever I introduce myself to the panel, I use my famous catch phrase: “Hi! I’m Kelly. I’m over 18 and I have flight benefits so I can be a local hire anywhere!” I’ve done this every showcase for the past 5 years and now it has become a running joke at BAA. Last summer, kids began to catch on and would introduce themselves saying, “I’m from Missouri but I am always willing to fly into New York” or, “I live in Dallas but I have family in New York I can stay with”. Staff members started coming up to me laughing, saying “Look what you’ve started!”
But no, kids, having family in New York is not the same. Telling an agent that you are willing to buy a plane ticket any time is not the same. Because the reality is, your parents probably won’t spend $400 every week for you to fly into New York City for an audition. But for me? The cost is not an issue.
I just finished a weekend intensive with BAA, complete with said showcase. I went up and slated with my phrase, receiving laughs from the panel per usual. I sang my song and afterwards a casting director from Telsey + Company asked me how long I was in the City for. I said “Well, as of now until Wednesday. But I can stay as long as I need to. Or fly back in whenever. Like I literally fly in all the time, even at like 6 hours notice…” and I kept rambling on an on, making sure the casting director had no doubt in my ability to fly. Another industry member chimed in and said, “Kelly, we get it. You fly for free”.
I told you I milk it.
Why? Because it truly is a big deal in this industry. So many projects hire local actors only, meaning only actors in the certain city that the show or movie is filming in. It’s cheaper for the production to book a local hire because then they aren’t required to pay to fly an actor in and put them up in a hotel.
This is usually limiting to an actor starting out, because you are limited to building your resume with projects that are filming in the area that you live in. (I’m talking co-star and principal roles).
But for me, it’s thankfully never been an issue. Because of my benefits, I’ve always told my agent I’m willing to work as a local hire. And it’s also given me the opportunity to have agents in all of the major markets, whereas most new actors only have an agent in the city they are based in. Starting when I was 18, I had agents in Atlanta, New York, and LA. I’ve also had the privilege of building my resume working as a local hire in New York, LA, Atlanta, and Nashville.
I would not be where I am today without my benefit of flying. I would not have been able to be a Workstudy at BAA. I would never have made connections in the industry in New York City, leading me to getting my agent. I would not have my manager, because I signed with her through my New York agent (that I would not have if I had told her I didn’t live in the City and couldn’t fly for free), etc.
Flying has changed my life in so many ways, and honestly has become part of my identity. It’s part of how I market myself, it’s a conversation starter when meeting new people, it has helped shape my perspective on life, it has made me independent from a young age, and it’s helped me monumentally in my career.
I’m so fortunate to have this lifestyle, and while I have the benefit, baby I’m gonna milk it.
I’m done talking about acting now. For good. The only reason I wrote about it this time is because I am on my way back to LA right now after my most recent showcase with BAA. I actually called my manager today to ask if she could reach out to the industry panel and pitch me for meetings while I’m in town. I told her I was thinking about possibly flying back to LA tonight, so to reach out ASAP to see if anyone wants to bring me in, so I can know if I need to extend my stay in NYC.
As the day went on, I had only received one response from an agent who said they loved me but had a conflict on their roster. The rest of the panel had yet to respond, so I texted my manager and said “I think I’ll just head back to LA.”
She responded, “Do it. You can always fly back to New York tomorrow if you need to.”
And that, my friends, is a true statement.
And yes, I can actually be a local hire anywhere.
-The Fly Girl