40.7128° N, 74.0060° W
‘You either get your ass into gear to keep up, or go home.’
Gems in this
After studying at the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA) in her native Australia, Lara Goldie won the first ever Vincent D'onofrio scholarship to the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute in New York. Relocating immediately to NYC, she found she’s a perfect fit for the city’s pace.
Playing Allie Luskin opposite Michael Weatherly in the CBS show Bull, Lara has worked across film, TV and theatre in the USA. She also counts writer, model and co-founder of Three Bridges Productions among her career roles. We spoke to Lara about how life abroad influences her work and some valuable tips for arriving and surviving in New York.
On moving abroad
I won a full scholarship to the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute so I dropped everything and took off immediately. NYC is the first place I’ve thrown down roots other than Sydney, so it was quite the change not being a tourist and kicking straight into survival gear.
July of 2012, my first NYC summer!
On what inspires you about New York
A lot, mostly the people. It’s a total hodgepodge of misery, struggle, thriving, success, excitement and adrenaline being experienced by millions of people in close physical proximity every day. As an actor, it’s an endless supply of character study and all aspects of humanity illuminated for my work. Or at least that’s what I tell myself while getting jostled by sweaty bankers and the guy who inexplicably decided rush hour was a great time to buy a giant cabinet from Target and lug it home on the subway. New York hasn’t made me bitter though, I SWEAR.
On current projects
Currently I am a recurring guest star on CBS show Bull with Michael Weatherly, as well as running a comedy channel on YouTube with my favorite people in the world. A friend from Strasberg and I founded it just over a year ago, and we do sketch comedy, satirical, political content and really weird and funny web series. Three Bridges Productions. Shameless plug, check us out.
On the best thing about living abroad
The adventurous feeling you have, knowing you pioneered your own future. The act of seizing your own opportunities and picking yourself up after every setback and learning from it is incredibly empowering. The culture here has influenced me in every way possible. The like-minded, hard-working people I’ve met here and their unique input into what we’ve created together have directly influenced my career and moved it forward rapidly.
On where you find inspiration
For my comedy channel, I go to writers’ meetings with our team. We are like a well-oiled machine at this point, and some of the silliest things we’ve spitballed have turned into our most successful sketches. For more character-y actor-y stuff, I go on little day trips out of the city to places like Beacon or to the Met. Not on the weekend though — that place is jammed then.
On differences in culture
It’s just more intense and fast-paced in general, purely because of how competitive it is. There are more people than jobs, and everyone is trying to best each other for them, which I love because you either get your ass into gear to keep up, or go home. I saw a lot of people at school give up in the first three months and leave. It was really intense.
On New York’s acting community
It is a lot more vast and varied purely because of population density and the fact that NYC is a creative mecca. Pensive and intense theatre kids, musical theatre extroverts, jaded TV veterans, fresh-faced NYU grads, and the odd lucky duck that takes off into the stratosphere and appears suddenly on subway posters — we’re all jammed in together and it’s awesome. Generally I find it to be a wonderfully collaborative rather than competitive atmosphere, and yeah, they’re receptive of foreigners in general because they don’t really have a choice in the matter. All us Australians barging in, successfully faking American accents and all.
On whether your image of New York changed after living there
I think I expected it to be a much meaner city than it actually is. There’s plenty of heart here if you look for it.
On the best new phrase you’ve heard in the USA
The response ‘Word’ I’ve always found to sound so effortlessly cool when spoken by an American person. I wouldn’t dare try to use it. I experimented once and it came out like an awkward aunt at a family barbecue attempting to connect with her teenage nieces and nephews by using outdated slang she’d found ‘on the Google’.
On the one thing people should do when they arrive
Buy an unlimited Metro card and make friends with the subway. It will be the best and cheapest way to get around. Don’t be scared, it’s way safer than everyone thinks. So far this year, only two or three people got pushed onto the tracks to my knowledge. Progress!
On a few must-knows
If that furnished $800 a month, one-bedroom on Craigslist looks too good to be true, it absolutely is a scam. Stay away. Also, don’t be that tourist that stops dead on the sidewalk to look up at a building on a busy street. You will get crashed into and yelled at. New Yorkers don’t mean anything bad by it; they’re just all in a hurry. You will adjust to the pace after a little while too!
'Patience is the biggest thing I can emphasize, along with a thick skin and realistic expectations. Also, make your own content!'
On finding an apartment
Brokers are an absolute waste of money in my opinion, unless you’re fabulously wealthy with a huge budget and no time to do research of your own. They take an average of 15% of the yearly rent as commission just for opening the door for you to look at the place, and can be very manipulative. If you’re on a tight budget — student or otherwise — you will find the absolute best deals on apartments on Craigslist, or through online Facebook housing groups: if you’re an artist, Ghostlight Housing is an excellent one to join. Go for a sublet first; they won’t care that you’re foreign and don’t have a credit score. If you’re there for the long term, you can work on building one. In the meantime, don’t bother trying to sign a lease unless you have a guarantor/are willing to pay up to six months rent up front. Always look for no broker/no fee apartments!
On what to be prepared for
It’s really expensive, and you’ll be paying way more than the living space you end up in is worth, so you need to get smart with your money and cook at home if you want to eat healthily cheaply. Trader Joe’s is a MUST. Everything is significantly cheaper. Or, like me, you can preach these things while living well beyond your means and mumbling to yourself, ‘I need to cook at home more,’ as you spend $25 on a latte and a kale salad while the bag of vegetables you just bought rots at home in your fridge.
If you’re an actor, be prepared for a lot of rejection, hard work and very little payoff to begin with. Patience is the biggest thing I can emphasize, along with a thick skin and realistic expectations. Also, make your own content! Don’t wait for someone to hand you opportunities; make them happen on your own. If I hadn’t started Three Bridges, my career wouldn’t be anywhere near what it is now. My new agent and job on a TV show were direct results of these people seeing the original stuff my friends and I came up with. Fact.
On a must-have item
On good coffee
'The best thing about living abroad is the adventurous feeling you have knowing you pioneered your own future.'
On something from Australia you need to find a fix of
On something you wish you’d been told
On the New York pace