AIP032 | How to Act in New York City with No Income – with Mandy May Cheetham

Mandy May Cheetham
Mandy May Cheetham

Actor Mandy May Cheetham speaks with host Ben Hauck on how to act in New York City — with little to no income.

In this interview, Mandy shares what motivated her temporary move to New York City from Toronto, Canada, and how she quadrupled the length of her initial stay. Mandy divulges the sources of her funding that financed her stay in NYC and how she was able to cut down on housing costs. Faced with the threat of being homeless in a foreign country, Mandy details how she was able to find new places to stay on short notice.

Mandy also details how she found acting opportunities in NYC — using casting websites, acting and improv school performance opportunities, and networking. In particular, networking for Mandy was like “finding her tribe.” Canada may seem similar to the United States, says Mandy, but Canadians can experience culture shock when in the country. Mandy explains some of the culture shock she experienced, not to mention how her uniquely Canadian experiences led her to seek out other Canadian actors in New York City.

Despite financial constraints as a Canadian in the United States, Mandy lays out how she remained creative during her stay. Bartering was one method she used to get what she needed, and she also used doing favors as a means for building equity with friends, to cash in on later for her career needs.

Eventually, Mandy left New York City, and she opens up on what led her to leave and what her relationship with New York City became over the course of her stay. She definitely left NYC with skills to be more competitive as an actor. She explains how the Toronto market is different from NYC’s, and how she upped her acting game when she returned to Toronto. Mandy also left NYC with thoughts on what she would have done differently in terms of performance and financing — were she to visit the city again.

Mandy rounds out the interview with advice for the actor considering the move to New York City, especially with limited financial resources or an inability to earn an income. She also mentions her book (available on her website) with practical tips for actors starting out in New York City, Los Angeles, and Toronto.

As an outtake from the interview, Mandy talks about how health care differs between Canada and the United States, and how that need affected her acting pursuits.

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☞ Mentions in This Episode

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Mandy May Cheetham’s Bio
Mandy May Cheetham
Mandy May Cheetham

Mandy May Cheetham is a prolific actress, writer, producer, and rapper, known for her award-winning comedic work in The Right Man and MUTHA.  She has appeared in over fifty projects in the past five years including national commercials, television shows, features, shorts, plays, musicals, improv, sketch, and stand-up. Mandy trained at The Second City Toronto, Berg Studios in Los Angeles, and The Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre and The Lee Strasberg Theatre & Film Institute in New York City.  Her alter-ego Mandy Mayhem can be found on YouTube trying to get Eminem’s attention.

To order Mandy’s book on starting out acting in New York City, Los Angeles, and Toronto, visit

Acting and Improv Schools

In New York City, Mandy attended the six-week intensive at The Lee Strasberg Theatre & Film Institute , as well as the Levels 1 and 2 intensives at The Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre.

In Toronto, Mandy trained at The Second City. and

Mandy used and (no relation!) as means for finding acting work in New York City during her stay.

The Infinite Need and Actuality

Mandy refers to two projects she worked on with Ben during her stay in New York City. The Infinite Need was a web series, improvised over ten episodes off the premise of an actor taking workshops with one casting director. Actuality was a short film developed off of improvisation for the Unscripted New York Improvised Theatre & Film Festival.

Hip-Hop Karaoke

Mandy refers to Hip-Hop Karaoke, a venue in which she has performed as a rapper and won multiple hip-hop karaoke competitions.

Malcolm Gladwell

In the episode, Mandy refers to Malcolm Gladwell and his idea that 10,000 hours of practice yields mastery.

The 10,000 Hour Rule appears in Gladwell’s 2011 book Outliers: The Story of Success.

Pam Hyatt

Trained at RADA and LAMDA, Pam Hyatt has served as Mandy’s private acting coach in Toronto, and she is mentioned in the episode.

Mandy’s articles will soon be published on


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☞ Conclusion

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