When I started telling people back in Los Angeles that I was planning to move to New Orleans, surprisingly few of them asked me why. Well, OK, they all asked me why — but it was “Oh how fun! How exciting! What led you to this fun, exciting decision?”, as opposed to “You’re leaving Los Angeles to move to the deep South and live in a city that has hurricanes and 99% humidity and violent crime and is famous for its drunken revelry, which really isn’t what you’re into?” It turns out that the population of Los Angeles associates New Orleans with great food, great music, history, culture and kind, welcoming people, so naturally no one was shocked to hear I wanted to move there.
None of these were the reasons I decided to leave LA for NOLA. I don’t eat pork or shellfish, don’t listen to jazz and have forgotten almost everything I ever learned about the history of the region. Mardi Gras doesn’t attract me, and I wasn’t so short on friends that I needed to move across the country to find them. My reasons were a lot harder to pin down and a lot less specific to this particular city.
Like every other young woman in Los Angeles, I’m an actor who can’t get an audition, grinding away at an all-consuming day job with no energy left over to cultivate anything else. My life in LA was eating my soul, and when I finally realized it, friends started suggesting that I spend a few months somewhere else. I don’t own property, my day job is on the computer, I’m not in a relationship…there was nothing to stop me from picking up and leaving. And if you’re feeling short on soul, what better place to replenish it than New Orleans? Add the fact that this is fast becoming the film capital of the country, and the decision more or less made itself.
Before I knew it, I was driving across the country to Louisiana. I knew the culture over here would be somewhat different from that of Los Angeles, but I had no real concept of what I was in for. When I arrived in New Orleans, I found myself in a Southern city with an intensely diverse population, rooted in Catholicism but spiced with its own peculiar mixture of secularism, Christianity and Voodoo, inhabited by wealthy college students and the dirt-poor dispossessed, with Hollywood rolling into the same streets that are still struggling to recover from Katrina. It’s a city of opposites.
So here’s the story of a West Coast girl in the South, learning my way around the Crescent City and adjusting to life in the Big Easy. Everything is different here, from the wildlife to the business models to the language to the people. It’s totally unlike anyplace else I have ever been. It’s confusing, overwhelming, and utterly wonderful.
I’m thrilled. I’m terrified. And I’m prepared to love every minute.