As the year crawls to an end, I want you to take some time off from your acting career. Try to enjoy the holidays. Go buy someone you love a turtledove. Watch a few holiday movies, like "A Christmas Story" and "Die Hard." The industry and all its frustrations will be here when you're done.
Now let's flash forward to the last day of the month. This is the time people start thinking about their resolutions. Man, that's a lot of pressure. If you ask me, you should be course-correcting all the time. I make a list of short- and long-term goals every month, not once a year. But hey, that's me. I'm a different breed of cat.
So to help with the pressure, here are the first five resolutions for your annual list. They may not get you a series, but I guarantee they'll make your life easier.
1) "I will challenge myself to be the best actor I can be." When I attend workshops and showcases, I'm constantly stunned by the mediocrity on display. It's not that the actors are bad. They're just not memorable. I would argue that all of you can improve. How? Try asking yourself these questions: Is my acting class still challenging or has it become a familiar place? Do I always play the same roles or do I choose parts that are outside my comfort zone? Can I learn anything by working with a private coach? These are just starter questions. I'm sure you can come up with more.
2) "I will use marketing tools that make me proud." Actors always hand me their pictures with an apology. I don't get that. If you're not happy with your headshots, it's time to get new ones. And don't repeat the same mistakes. This time, get several opinions on what's wrong with your current shots, then interview several photographers. Find someone who makes you comfortable. The same holds true for your reel and website. Marketing is a crucial part of your career. If you don't understand that, maybe it's time to read a few books on the subject. Hey! That just gave me an idea….
3) "I will study the art of marketing."
4) "I will create my own opportunities." You can't just sit around waiting for someone like me to sign you. We're living in a digital age when everyone can do their own thing. So start brainstorming with your friends. Come up with something. And if you're still an analog-type person, you can go old-school and produce your own play or create an improv group or something like that.
5) "I will eliminate negative energy from my life." An acting career is tough enough without all the doomsayers. I'm talking about that actor friend who's always whining about how hard it is to make it. I'm also talking about anyone—boyfriend, girlfriend, roommate—who doesn't support your dreams. They all need to go. Their pessimism blunts the tools you need to succeed.
Those are my top recommendations for resolutions, but you need to add your own. Maybe you can invite a few actor friends over and turn your list into a group project while you down spiked eggnog and listen to a holiday mix from Starbucks. Even better, you can hold each other accountable during the next 12 months. What fun!
And on that cheerful note, Secret Agent Man would like to wish all of you a merry Christmas and a happy new year.