For the Christmas Season, Learn to Shop Smarter

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Photo Source: Steve Weigl

When Christmas arrives in a few weeks, I want you to turn off your actor brain so you can enjoy the holiday season. It’s that rare time of year when all your professional concerns can be placed on hold without having to feel guilty. So go forth, gentle reader, and spread some holiday cheer. Christmas truly is the most wonderful time of the year.

But we’re not there yet.

Right now, I want you to get your actor butt in gear, because the next few weeks are go time. Everyone’s in a great mood, so why not take advantage of that? You can sing carols later. This is the time to exploit the holidays for your own benefit.

The best way to do that is by acting like Santa Claus. No, I’m not suggesting you gain a ton of weight and start hanging out with little people. The plan is to buy presents for everyone in your professional life who has the ability to advance your career. So get a pen, make your list, check it twice, and get to work.

Here are some ideas for that list. All your agents have to be on it. I’m talking theatrical, commercial, voiceover, whatever. You should probably include their assistants, too. (There’s no reason to give your manager a present. They’re not really people so they won’t understand what’s happening.)

Now let’s focus on casting. If you’re a workshop whore, don’t waste your money buying a present for every single casting director you’ve paid to meet. Focus on the ones who have hired you or have brought you in to audition at least two times. The rest can go to hell.

This third group is a little more random. These are the people you may or may not be able to use. For example, your teacher could merit a spot on the list, especially if he likes to introduce his favorite students to someone like me. Or maybe you have an actor friend with decent representation who might be able to arrange a meeting. Only you can decide who deserves a little extra attention during this magical time of year.

Right now, you’re probably thinking you can’t afford to buy so many presents. I would argue that you can’t afford not to. And there’s no reason to spend a fortune. I’ve had clients give me $10 gift cards from Starbucks and I’ve been thrilled to get them.

Remember, people have been conditioned to believe it’s the thought that counts. So use that nonsense to your advantage.

But there are some presents you definitely want to avoid. For example, I can’t stand those enormous gift baskets that weigh in at 100,000 calories. Actors always send them as one present for the entire office. Let me clue you in on a little secret: I hate sharing gifts.

You should also steer clear of anything too personal. I once had a client surprise me with organic body products that smelled like cow crap. Another actor gave me a tie with little reindeer on it. Those were both major mistakes.

And please don’t plant a tree in my name. That’s the lamest gift in the world. I want something tangible, something I can hold in my hands and enjoy. That’s what Christmas is all about.

The clock is ticking, gentle reader. So get to work. Christmas is almost here and you don’t want to miss out on all the opportunities this holiday creates for a smart actor like you.

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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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