For much of the entertainment industry, the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day is a rare moment to slow down. Agencies close, phones stop ringing, and routine emails generally go unanswered until after the holiday.
As I am in London this holiday week, I am struck by the way Europeans slow down. Absolutely nothing is open on Christmas Day. Not even mass transit. On the following day, Boxing Day, the biggest shopping day of the season, some tube stations and many stores still remain closed. How different it is on our side of the pond where Black Friday now infringes on Thanksgiving Day itself.
I am taking my cue from the Brits and encouraging you to do the same. Take a moment this holiday season to shut out the shopping and slow down the rush. Connect with your family and friends and the values that matter most in your life. See this moment as an opportunity to reflect on the past year.
Ask yourself the following questions:
1. Have you made strides toward mastering your craft? Think about how your training has helped you grow and how it’s impacted your performance. Reflect on the feedback you received from trusted advisors and audiences to measure your progress. Consider what is missing in your acting toolbox and how you will achieve it.
2. Do you feel empowered? Take stock of your career goals and the steps you have taken to work in the industry. Determine if they are reasonably attainable and in line with the development of your craft. Examine your daily, weekly and monthly habits to evaluate whether your actions support and further your goals. Reflect on the guidance you receive from your mentors and representatives to determine if you are a good fit for each other, and whether they are enabling you to make purposeful and confident decisions.
3. Are you enjoying the journey? Question how you feel in the morning and before bed. Deliberate in what ways your attitude toward your craft and the business has changed in the past year. Review what you have been saying to your friends and colleagues about your professional accomplishments.
For me, Sidney Poitier said it best: “I had chosen to use my work as a reflection of my values.” In this simple, but powerful statement, Mr. Poitier reminds us that the expression of ourselves as authentic actors begins with an understanding of ourselves as human beings.
My wish for every actor is to use the self-awareness of this moment to move ever closer toward achieving your goals while remaining true to your values. Best wishes for a happy, healthy and successful new year!
Master your craft, empower yourself, enjoy the journey.
Denise Simon is a New York-based acting coach and career consultant who has been involved in the entertainment industry for more than 25 years as an actor, teacher, director, and personal talent manager. For 10 years, she was an associate with Fox Albert Management, one of the leading talent management companies in New York, where she managed such clients as Scarlett Johansson, Academy Award winner Mira Sorvino, Lacey Chabert (“Party of Five”), and Judy Reyes (NBC’s “Scrubs”). Denise has coached hundreds of children and young adults appearing regularly on Broadway, and in television and film, as well as educating parents on the business of show business.