Home Finding Happiness Sarah J. Halstead: How I Moved to L.A. and Launched My Comedy Career

Sarah J. Halstead: How I Moved to L.A. and Launched My Comedy Career

by Ali Wenzke

Sarah J. Halstead is a comedian, actor and podcaster. She has appeared in over 90 commercials, along with a slew of guest-star roles in both film and television. As an acclaimed standup comedian, she performs regularly at The Comedy Store, The Improv, Flappers Comedy Club, and Laugh Factory. Sarah J. Halstead is the creator of several podcasts including Drinking During Business Hours and Jimmy & Sarah on the Sunset Strip (with co-creator Jimmy Shin) at The World Famous Comedy Store.


Sarah J. Halstead, you’re living the dream. You packed up, left your old life behind, and moved to L.A. Now you’re an actress, a podcaster, and a stand-up comic.

What made you decide to move to L.A.?

I dreamed of living in LA since I was a little girl from Flint, Michigan. Once I was out of high school, I knew I wanted to pursue a career in acting, but I didn’t have the guts to move so far from my parents, so I chose NYC. However, I now feel like I have finally found my home in LA, and I have no plans to live anywhere else. It’s a good feeling.

I always dreamed of living in L.A.

Describe your journey from Flint, Michigan, to Los Angeles.

I was born and raised in Flint, Michigan.  Shortly after high school, I moved to New York City. I got educated and stayed in New York City for seven years. Then, I fell in love and moved to Miami for my then husband, and I lived there for a decade. We divorced and,  although I had a really good job and supportive network and friends, I had a glimmer of confidence that I could rebuild myself in a city that excited me.

I quit my job, sold my home, rented a 30 ft RV and drove from Miami to Los Angeles. I loved living in NYC in my 20’s, loved living in Miami in my 30’s, and now loving LA in my 40’s.

I rented an RV and headed to Hollywood.

How did you break into the acting and comedy scene in L.A.?

It was easy at first. I simply created a profile on Actors Access and my phone started blowing up with audition requests. Even though I was a little older, casting directors saw me as fresh face. I began booking commercials, theater, and small roles on television right away.  Four years later,  it’s become very difficult to break into that next level (lead roles) since that involves competing with big name actresses.

Breaking into the scene was easy…at first.

Photo provided by Sarah J. Halstead

What is the strangest role you’ve ever taken, Sarah?

I book a lot of characters with severe mental illness  –  I try not to read too much into that.  Once I played a schizophrenic serial murderer who would lure young men to her horse ranch, have sex, then stab them in the head and burn their bodies in a barrel in her backyard.  I guess that one was pretty strange.


How did you decide on a career in comedy?

I learned to hone the craft from a very young age as a way to divert attention from my homeliness. I had a bowl haircut and teeth that were so crooked and bucked I could hardly close my lips.  Kids can be pretty mean, so I began to rely on my humor as a way of making friends.

People in L.A. spend a lot of time in their cars. How do you build friendships in a sprawling city like Los Angeles?

This is true! Most of my friends are comics since I’m in comedy clubs most every night. In LA, people’s circles are usually where they work.


What advice would you give to someone who is afraid to take the leap and pursue her dreams in another state?

Take the leap, but be responsible about it. I didn’t have kids, so my move didn’t risk the well-being of little ones. Strategize, budget, and have a plan of what you’re going to do once you reach your destination. I think a lot of people think I made my move spontaneously – but I had planned for a long time. I was just quiet about it.

Take the leap

Photo provided by Sarah J. Halstead

Where can readers find you if they want to see your comedy act or listen to your podcast?

All of my upcoming shows and podcasts are on my website www.sarahjhalstead.com. I’m recording a live show at The Second City in Hollywood on December 19, 2019 at 7:30 PM with proceeds going to The Flint Child Health & Development Fund.


Thank you for your time, Sarah. You are an inspiration to every person who hopes to make her dreams come true in L.A. Plus, you’re hilarious, so I really like you.

Thanks for this interview, Ali. I enjoy The Art of Happy Moving immensely!

Photo provided by Sarah J. Halstead

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