Happy Thanksgiving to all the American members of AAUK. It’s always a little odd celebrating Thanksgiving here in the UK. Unlike the States, where the entire country comes to a mutual screeching halt to spend time together with family, friends and strangers over vast feasts and televised sports, life here carries on as normal – apart from the odd can of pumpkin puree unexpectedly popping up in the supermarket – and we have to squeeze in our celebrations where we can.

We do have a great deal to be thankful for as a group. We are the lucky ones, able to live and work in a different culture, and more than ever, in these volatile times, we need to remind ourselves just how precious a privilege that is.

Sometimes, it’s admittedly a little tough to remember this, especially when the umpteenth person has commented on your accent (“Do I detect a hint of a North American twang there?”) or worse, tried to imitate it (note to British actors: if you haven’t lived there, just… don’t) and sometimes even long after the papers come through, it feels like we have to continue to justify why we are here. I trained at LAMDA and have worked in the UK entertainment industry for nearly 30 years; and yet only last week, in the middle of an online forum discussion about union matters, out of nowhere someone said to me accusingly, “I found out you are American – what would you know about the UK acting industry?”

Well, yes, I am American, and while I wonder if the person would have been quite so openly racist if I had been of a different nationality, there’s probably tons I don’t know. But after nearly three decades here, this is what I’ve found: The British acting industry is frustrating, and invigorating. It often doesn’t make sense. It simultaneously slams some doors in your face if you are a foreign national, and allows you to open others you never thought you’d have access to. You can do TV, theater, radio drama, commercials, corporate roleplay and TIE all at the same time, without having to move cities or time zones, and it’s all covered by the same union. Here, though the earnings are lower, it’s a career that you train for, not a prize to be plucked if you have the right headshots. People may be more reserved, but once they know you can do the job, they won’t hesitate to suggest your name to an employer. There’s a quiet, professional generosity among those who work regularly in the UK industry, that seems to be lacking from the thrusting, cut-throat worlds of New York and LA.

So all in all, despite the challenges we face as immigrants – because, let’s face it, that’s what we all are, even if we come from wealthy, developed countries – we are lucky to be here and working in one of the best industries in the world. Happy Thanksgiving, the ultimate immigrant holiday, however you are celebrating. And good luck with that pumpkin pie.