I Can Be A Local Hire Anywhere

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

 

It’s Not Always The High Life

We’ve all had differing experiences with air travel. Sometimes you are stuck in the back row of the plane next to the bathroom, other times you’re in first class being fed a five course meal. These experiences begin to shape how we view flying- if you fly a super cheap airline, you are likely to have a worse view of flying than if you frequently travel with a well known company. If you always choose a middle seat because of the cheaper cost, you are likely to not enjoy your experience as much as the person in the aisle. The list goes on.

As a Stand-By passenger, some people have this fantasy of my travels where I fly first class everywhere I go and live this life full of luxury. And while some people do have those perks, I do not. I’m sorry to ruin your fantasy.

For example, this week I have been on three different flights- LA to New York, New York to Atlanta, and Atlanta to LA. All three of these flights were completely different from each other as far as experience goes.

From LA to New York, I lived the high life: I flew business class with lie flat seats. This kind of in-air experience comes complete with a comforter, pillow, “Refresh” kit (complete with a toothbrush, toothpaste, mouthwash, a sleep mask, socks, lotion, chapstick, and tissues), a four-course meal, and a massage (yes, the chair could also massage you). Calling it a “nice flight” would be an understatement. This is the sort of fantasy people believe I live every time I fly.

Fast forward to my flight from New York to Atlanta: I flew Economy Comfort, a step behind first class but in front of regular coach seating. In this section, the leg room is a little bigger and your snack selections are better. I was assigned a middle seat, which is not what I prefer, but being in this section made up for it. It was a decent flight… until we landed. During our flight, the airline’s entire computer system crashed worldwide. This meant that there were no gates available at the airport because no planes had been allowed to take off. We ended up sitting on the plane on the runway for 3 hours- initial touchdown was 8:04 pm and the boarding door opened to let us off at 11:07 pm. What sounds like a nightmare to most was honestly ok with me- I didn’t have anywhere I needed to be and I was able to finish my homework. I was towards the front of the plane thankfully, but I was in a middle seat which wasn’t ideal. But in that kind of situation, the captain and flight attendants are completely out of control, so why make a fuss over it? There was nothing they could do except update us passengers and communicate with the air traffic controllers.

But yes: a much different experience from the first example.

Jump ahead to my current flying situation as I’m writing this post: I am on my way to LA from Atlanta. I was supposed to wake up and go to the airport for a flight with 50 seats on it, but I decided to sleep in an extra hour and jump on the next flight. Little did I know that this aircraft would be a little smaller than the other one, and there were less seats available. I got on the plane, but am currently sitting in a middle seat. Unfortunately, I am not in Economy Comfort- I am just a few short rows behind it. This means less leg- room, regular snacks, and a mediocre flying experience. But to add to this: On my left is a large man whose body is spilling over into my seat. He is wearing a rain jacket that is draped over onto my chair and won’t move it. He is on the window side, but our row mysteriously has no window. Talk about claustrophobia! To my right sits a man who has been arm wrestling me for the arm rest on my right side- he is in the aisle seat though and has a whole arm-rest to himself, and leg room for days! Can’t he see that this giant man next to me is taking up all of my space? Have some sympathy, man! The icing on the cake: the man in front of me has his seat pushed back. I am literally typing this with my hands attached to my sides, barely any room to be free.

Again- a MUCH different flying experience than the first and even the second.

So, have I unclouded those fantasies you had about me living the glamorous life, as Fergie described?

But at the end of the day, I can’t complain. There’s nothing bad about my life. There’s nothing I would trade about my flight benefits. There are people who are no longer able to get into this safe country, and here I am complaining about being able to fly all around the world for free?

I’m not complaining, I promise. The way I look at it, each experience gives me a new story to tell. I mean, I wouldn’t have this blog if I had the same, awesome, first class experience every single time I flew, right?

It’s not always the high life, but it’s the fly life.

-The Fly Girl