As a single Mormon living in New York City, I have had a few variations of this question/assumption: that it must be hard to be a Mormon in the Big Apple. So many scary, uber-liberal people! So many distractions! Not enough Mormons! I have had people from a massage therapist (mid-massage, awkward) ask me this, to an out of town visitor in my ward in Harlem. It is always a little bit surprising, and causes me to pause for a second. Because honestly, I don't even think about it, and here's why.
Being a Mormon in New York City is similar to being a Mormon anywhere else. The city is big, and there are a lot of people. And being a conservative, practicing Mormon, I am probably a minority. (Definitely in my neighborhood, but that has nothing to do with my religion. That's because I'm white). There is a vast amount to do here, and experiences to have, for good and evil. All of this is true, and could be very distracting, if you want to look at it that way. But why should that make a difference in how I am able to live my religion? That would imply that I am a victim of my circumstances, and if there is one thing I refuse to be in my life, it is a victim. I make my own choices in how I live, every day. Some of them are second nature by now, and some of them take more thought. But those bigger choices, like finding time to go to the temple, or serve someone in need, or whether to go get a second dessert after a ward activity, those I would have to grapple with no matter where I live.
Here's a fact: if you want to be distracted, you can find distraction anywhere. If you want to struggle with not having enough friends who share similar values, you can do that anywhere. If you want to feel sad that you are in your 30's and single and there is no one to date, guess what- you can do that anywhere, even in Utah. (Shocker). If you want to go inactive over any of the above, you can also do that anywhere.
Here's another fact: If you want to be active in the LDS Church, you can do that anywhere. If you want to progress in the gospel, learn from your mistakes, mess up, repent and keep going, you can do that anywhere. If you want to endure to the end, you can! Anywhere. There is a scripture about this...somewhere....oh, got it:
Doctrine and Covenants 87:8
Anywhere I live can be a holy place, if I choose to make it so. And there are so many holy places in New York City, among this crazy town I love. The temple, for one. Obviously. But it really does provide an oasis in the middle of everything. It is a huge blessing in my life and I am so glad to have one here. But also, my bedroom can be a holy place. My apartment can. My ward building in Harlem, where we have a "come as you are" mentality, and people come from a million different backgrounds; that is a holy place to me. All of these places are here in Manhattan. Plus, there are myriads of churches and cathedrals and parks and quiet spaces in this city that all qualify as holy places to me. Places where I have felt in a very real way the closeness of my Higher Power.
I have felt His love and closeness on the subway as a homeless woman sang her heart and soul out for a little bit of food, and then witnessed a woman come to her aid, take her by the hand, and go with her to find more long term help. I have felt His love for me as I walk through Central Park on a gorgeous day. I have felt close to Him as I sit in Holy Trinity Church on Central Park West and 65th Street listening to Bach Vespers on a Sunday evening. I have felt edified and centered when I read my scriptures online in an office that I am working at for the day. You get the picture.
The part of not letting myself be moved is meaningful as well. Anywhere I live, I have to make the choice to keep the covenants I have made, and not be moved from them. Are there distractions? Of course! Do I get caught up in said distractions sometimes? Absolutely! More than I would like to admit. But it is a daily challenge, and not dictated or made harder by geography, for me.
Now, being a Mormon actor, there a few more factors that can be called distractions. Or things to think about as I make career decisions, like what types of characters I want to play, what shows I want to be a part of, things like that. But again, those are decisions that I get to make, and since I try and keep a solid foundation under me in general, I trust that when those decisions come, between the Lord and I, we'll be alright.
I am by no means saying that my life is always easy, or that I don't make dumb mistakes on a regular basis, or falter, or question, or struggle. I am a work in progress. But I am a work in progress in New York, just like I was a work in progress when I lived in Utah. I have created a holy place here, and it was not a surprise. I am only surprised when others find it surprising.