What Your Agent Wants for the Holidays

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Photo Source: Jonathan Bartlett

Merry Christmas!

Yes, I know it’s a little early, but that’s just the way I roll. Secret Agent Man loves the holiday season. It’s my favorite time of year.

December is the month when all the pressure fades away as the entertainment industry crawls to a stop. In just a few weeks, I’ll be able to leave my cares behind in an empty office. The days will be mine, and I won’t have to worry about clients. Oh, what a glorious time!

But first, I get to sit back and watch a stream of grateful actors pour into my office, their arms loaded with holiday gifts. Watching them come and go makes me feel like the baby Jesus.

Holiday shopping for your agents is an opportunity to make an impression, but you have to be wise. The wrong gift (or no gift) can leave a bad taste in their mouth. So to help you navigate the season with a cup of show biz savvy, I’ve created a three-step plan guaranteed to make you stand out:

First, stop whining about spending money on your agents. This is not the time to embrace your inner Scrooge. Buying a little something for the people on your team is a good move, and you’d be a fool not to do it. Understand?

Good. Now that you’ve accepted your role as Santa, go make a list and check it twice. Include all your agents and their assistants. Don’t forget anyone.

(This is the easy part.)

Second, you have to come up with the right present for everyone on that list. (This is the hard part.) The trick is to avoid generic, impersonal items like those gigantic gift baskets that are made of sugar and fat. They tend to pile up, and most of the contents are usually thrown out.

A better choice would be a gift card. I know that sounds generic, but there are gift cards for everything—restaurants, spa services, movie theaters—the list is endless. So be creative. The best one I ever got was for a night at the L.A. Derby Dolls roller derby.

Hands down, the best choice would be something really personal, a gift that shows you made an effort.

Years ago, I signed a redhead from Chicago named Jennifer. During the initial meeting, we talked about our favorite childhood TV shows, and I happened to mention “Happy Days.” When Christmas rolled around, Jennifer surprised me with an original Fonzie doll she found on eBay. That was the perfect present and it’s still sitting on my desk.

By the way, there’s no need to spend a fortune, especially when you’re dealing with a large office. This is the one time of year when agents aren’t thinking about money. It’s all about the gesture. (Stop laughing. I’m serious.)

Oh, there’s one more thing. Please don’t make a charitable contribution in my name. I hate when actors do that. It’s not that I have anything against cancer research or the Human Fund, but I prefer to make my own decisions when it comes to charity.

Finally, when you’re done shopping, make sure you drop off the gifts in person. It doesn’t make sense to have them shipped. You need to make eye contact when you hand someone a present. Doing this also allows you some quality face time with your reps. And who knows? You might actually connect with a real conversation that has nothing to do with acting.

Now go out and shop, ye merry actors, and come forth with your gold, frankincense, and myrrh. I’ll be waiting with open arms. And if you even try to reach me after I leave for the holidays, I will hunt you for sport when I’m back.

Happy holidays!

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Secret Agent Man
Secret Agent Man is a Los Angeles–based talent agent and our resident tell-all columnist. Writing anonymously, he dishes out the candid and honest industry insight all actors need to hear.
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