By Lina Zinecker
In 2015 I decided to move to New York from Hamburg, Germany to study acting at The American Musical and Dramatic Academy (AMDA), located on the Upper West Side.
I knew pretty early on that I wanted to study acting in New York, since it’s the art capital of the world and I grew up watching American movies and tv series. After taking part in an acting summer workshop at The New York Film Academy in 2014, I noticed how much more hands on the training was over here, and decided to apply to different acting schools in the United States.
What I like about the UWS is that it’s home to so many acting, dance, and music schools. Plus, we have the MET opera and Lincoln Center here. You’re surrounded by art wherever you go, and I constantly run into fellow performers!
One of my favorite things about the Upper West Side, New York City, and the acting community has been that I get to meet fellow artists from all over the world and bond over our love for this city and the arts. There hasn’t been a show, since I started working here, where I was the only foreigner in the cast. I love being able to be creative and learn from other performers and come together to create a play or film.
Being from a different country doesn’t only give me the opportunity to share my culture, but also to get to know so many others.
It’s very interesting to be shown foreign music and films and see what is popular somewhere else. Although most of the time I don’t understand the language, if the acting is done well you still get a good idea of what the scene is about. Art in some ways doesn’t even need to be translated — the tonality, facial expressions, and gestures carry emotions way more than one might think.
What I’ve noticed is that there is an unspoken and immediate bond between foreign performers/people whenever we meet each other. We instantly understand what it’s like to be thousands of miles away from home, to not be able to talk to friends and family whenever we feel like it due to time differences, and to create a new friend group for ourselves in a new country.
Working in the arts in New York has also taught me that you can have lots of fun, while still being professional. Whenever I’ve worked in Germany everyone on set/at the theater was very stern — even a bit intimidating and cold at times. Over here I’ve noticed that directors and producers are much more open and engaging, but that attitude doesn’t take anything away from their professionalism. That’s something that I truly value.
Having the luxury of living in this one-of-a-kind city has also provided me with the opportunity to consume art weekly. Broadway shows, off-off Broadway plays, sketch comedy and improv shows are happening daily all throughout the boroughs. If you feel like it, you can literally show hop nightly. That’s not something we have where I’m from. Going to see a show is something you only do once in a while in Hamburg. We don’t have anything comparable to Broadway, where you can find one theater next to the other. We usually have three or four musicals and those stay for a long time, so there isn’t much variety compared to over here. To have the chance to see a different show whenever I want to is extremely exciting. Plus, there are so many pop-up art events happening all of the time in the city that there is no time to ever feel uninspired, or bored.
I also like that there are a lot of ways to further your craft here. The amount of acting, improv, dance, and singing classes that regularly take place blew my mind when I first moved to New York. I consider myself fortunate to have met so many incredibly talented people not only on stage, but also while taking classes. The adrenaline rush you feel while performing together and sharing that experience really makes you bond in a different way.
I genuinely consider New York City my home. The way that I have grown here as a performer and human would not have been possible anywhere else. This city means the world to me, and anybody who’s ever lived here knows that no other place can compare!
I’m glad you came to be part of our city!
Thank you for this love letter to NYC and especially to the creative community that keeps it so interesting and vital. As a relative newcomer, I share many of your positive impressions about the openness and great variety that is found here. Of course, you are an important part of that tapestry!
Thank you, WSR, for printing this upbeat article. We need articles such as this one to offset the other, more common unpleasant news to which we are usually subjected in national and local news. Please keep positive-energy articles like this one flowing.
Wonderful! I agree with you completely, and I sure do miss my UWS.