THE BLOG

Working in Tinseltown

25/09/2014 17:08 BST | Updated 25/11/2014 10:59 GMT

So, I've just watched my American TV debut on Switched at Birth for ABC Family - I can't quite believe I'm saying that!

For any actor, going to work in Tinseltown is a bit dream come true and I really couldn't ask for a better show to be involved in.

Switched at Birth has an amazing cast including an Oscar winner and two Emmy nominees, the writing is very innovative and the show's producers have redefined US TV by launching a mainstream show which includes multiple deaf cast members, whose characters communicate only in ASL (American Sign Language).

Anyone who knows me (and I'm assuming that's not many) will know that deafness and sign language are two things very close to my heart. I'm fluent in British sign language and I have a very personal connection with deafness and have been a committed advocate for raising deaf awareness for the last 10 years.

I want to explain more about this work in these blog posts as well as giving you a little insight into what it's like as a Brit working in Hollywood - it's been pretty good so far.

So I arrived here in LA back in April with no prodigious expectations, but even with limited exposure to the sunshine state, I have to say that this really is the land of opportunity! It's also the land of the beautiful people with perfect white teeth and tiny dogs wearing tiny coats.

But to be honest, the first thing that hits you when you step off the plane in LA is just how eager people are to help you out here - or at least that's what I've found.

I've been perpetually impressed with waitresses, bar tenders, shop workers - pretty much everyone I've come across in the service sector, have all been exceptionally polite and almost too eager to help.

I feel that if someone wearing a large grin approached me on the London underground and asked if I was ok or if I needed any help, I'd probably check my handbag to see what was missing.

That said, I do have a theory for this unyielding 'eager to please' culture.

The town is obviously saturated with industry folk and the majority of service staff are budding actors.

Therefore I say the staff are overly polite to EVERYBODY for fear of offending somebody 'important' and missing out on that life-changing acting role and the career that might come of it (we've all heard those stories).

That's just my theory, but whatever the reason, the service out here is gratefully received.

So, as an actor you hear the word 'networking' being labeled an 'imperative part of the job' - personally I'm terrible at it.

In fact self promotion in general has never been my strong point (although I am trying be more active on twitter) so the LA networking scene was always going to terrify me. We've all heard the phrases to describe it, like it's 'dog eat dog or 'cut throat'.

I can confirm that both phrases are pretty accurate.

I recently attended a couple of soirees full of aesthetically pleasing people with impeccable social skills, all armed with business cards and showreels.

As my inadequacy grew I couldn't help being slightly impressed, maybe even envious of the unapologetic sycophantic behaviour that I was witnessing as they hunted out potential employers.

I had a few brief conversations with fellow actors that spent most of the time looking over my shoulder waiting for someone more interesting to come along.

It's times like this that I become aware of just how 'British' I am.

I feel that Britain is a rather self-deprecating nation, you're almost considered egotistical to say you're good at anything.

The British way is to let someone else say it - we simply smile modestly and say thank you.

When someone walks into me, whether it's my fault or not, I say sorry.

At home, I'll moan about the food in a restaurant to my fellow diners, yet when the waiter asks me how it is, unless I'm at risk of salmonella, I always say 'it's fine thank you'.

In the UK, we also seem to LOVE to queue too - whether it's for a cash point, Post Office counter or for a bus, I always abide by the unwritten rule and patiently wait behind the person in front of me.

In la la land it appears to be the polar opposite - you tell EVERYONE how great you are, you only apologise for things that actually ARE your fault, if your food is lousy, you complain and the overly helpful staff who flash their pearly white teeth and enthusiastically run off to the kitchen to make your meal again from scratch - and when it comes to queues?

Oh you don't queue honey - you make sure you're on the guest-list of course!

That said, and while making no attempt to suppress my British ways, I can't stop my growing Intrigue for this plucky town, maybe there's something in the air.

I'm off to a friend's fundraiser for a film she's making tonight.

I'll let you know how I get on!