Thanksgiving is just a few weeks away, and that long weekend marks the start of the holiday season. I love this time of year; it’s not too busy, there are plenty of parties, and everyone’s looking forward to the holiday break.
Actors often ask me what they should be doing during this festive downtime. It’s a valid question, and my response involves a three-part action plan that’s guaranteed to work. And naturally, you should tailor it to your particular needs.
Part 1: Prep work
Get ready for next year by improving and building upon what you did during the last 12 months. Have your headshots been effective? If not, set up a session in January to get new ones. Has your acting class grown stale? If it has, start researching other options. Are you thinking about learning new skills that will broaden your range? This is the perfect time to make some choices. Your options range from courses on improv to accents, and everything in between.
Since the casting process has largely moved online, consider using this break to improve your self-taping skills. Get together with actor friends to record practice auditions, and keep that teamwork going into the new year.
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You should also work on your Zoom game. Getting your personality to come across on a webcam is a skill worth mastering. Consider this: Martin Scorsese cast Lily Gladstone opposite Leonardo DiCaprio in his new film “Killers of the Flower Moon” after their first Zoom meeting. According to DiCaprio, Scorsese immediately knew that she was the perfect fit for the role.
Part 2: Gift-giving
If you have representation, give your agents a little holiday cheer; it’s a great way to express your gratitude for everything they do. There’s no need to spend a fortune. Just pick up an affordable bottle of wine, a gift card to Starbucks, or something like that. Most of the presents I’ve received over the years cost less than $20, and I appreciated every single one.
I still remember my favorite gift. Ten years ago, a young client showed up at our office with her ukulele and performed a surprise concert. Holiday music has never sounded that good.
Part 3: Self-care
This one’s important. Set aside a chunk of time during the holidays when you don’t even think about your acting career. Instead, hang out with friends and family—or, if you’re on your own, consider volunteering for a local charity.
You should also allow yourself time to have some fun. Read that book you’ve been meaning to pick up. Go on a hike. Check out a museum. The specifics don’t matter, as long as you’re not thinking about acting. And don’t feel guilty about ignoring your career for a while. Trust me—it will still be there after the clock strikes 12 on New Year’s Eve.
This is a terrific time to fine-tune your professional goals and deepen your existing relationships, but it’s also a good moment to decompress and reflect on what really matters. Try to strike the right balance between the two; finding it will make you happier—and a better actor.
Have a great holiday season!
This story originally appeared in the Nov. 2 issue of Backstage Magazine.