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The Holiday Drop-Off – Do They Really Like Me?

January 7, 2013

That time of year again…the high-wire act involving the balancing of an actor’s unreliable income stream with gift buying for dozens of family members and friends and of course, the business associates.

Like, I’m sure, most of you, I question and curse the motive behind the holiday shopping craze, but still get involved each year.

But there is something that fills me with even more dread than opening my January bank statements, and that is the Holiday Drop Off at my agents’ office.

Now, I want to make very clear, my agents work really hard to get me work and they deserve even more than a little thank-you gift at the end of the year. They are also very nice people. But I don’t see them much, as our communication is almost all digital. And for some reason, the thought of going into their offices bearing gifts in mid-December each year is terrifying.

This year, I figured out why. And it’s sad. Despite my consistent call-backs and sometimes bookings….despite my solid training and years of experience which have given me confidence… despite the fact that my agents regularly send me notes telling me that I’m awesome (did I mention they are great agents?)… I’m still overcome at times by that person inside who feels like she doesn’t really belong and at any moment, the big bad entertainment industry will realize that and kick her out on the street and laugh at her for thinking she is an actor…hahahahah. Who do you think you are, they’ll all say! Get out of town, you don’t deserve to work here! And each year, I fear this moment will come when I walk into my agents’ office with holiday gift bags.

You know what I mean, right? Because I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in this phobia. I’ve read many interviews with A-list, top-grossing, well-respected actors, who say the same thing… that they fear the day everyone realizes they don’t really belong. And who can forget this Oscar acceptance speech:

If Gidget isn’t even sure she belongs, how can I be?

So this year, like every year for the past three years that I’ve been with this agency, I stressed about what to wear to the drop-off…it had to be the right combination of casual/in-keeping-with-my-brand/comfortable/flattering outfit. And I wondered what to talk about… should I talk shop? or keep business out of it? But mostly I worried that I’d walk into the office as an actor and do something so stupid that they would revoke my contract immediately, and I’d no longer be an actor…

yes, the holiday stress does some crazy things to our brains.

The day came… I had told my agent’s assistant I’d be dropping by with “holiday cheer.” Then I put on my best vintage A-line plaid skirt and bright blue shirt, took a deep breath, and stopped in.

And guess what…they were happy to see me. I got big hugs. I told a few jokes which they laughed heartily at (though I think that’s required in my contract) and we talked about their upcoming holiday trips. They asked me for a link to my latest short film, which they watched and loved. The visit lasted about 15 minutes and I walked out of there feeling great…. but, not, surprisingly, because I was relieved the visit went well.. it was because I had just made a nice human connection.

Then something hit me on the sidewalk…. Sally Field had it muddled up. Winning an Oscar didn’t have anything to do with people “liking her” or not. She won because she did a great job as an actor on “Places in the Heart.” And on the flip side, I know my agents like me, as a person, but it doesn’t have anything to do with whether or not I am an actor who does good work.

Hopefully, I’ll continue in 2013 to forge the combination of the two…people liking me AND doing great work. But I know that they are actually somewhat exclusive of each other. If for some reason, the big bad industry did decide that I shall never work again, well, I’m still an ok kind of person, that people like.

And I also realized on the sidewalk how much I liked my agents as people…they are funny and involved in life and tough and brave…and just good people. So maybe, if I continue to look at them as people, rather than as a symbol of the industry, next year’s drop off won’t be as terrifying…and hopefully I’ll have even larger gifts to share.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. January 7, 2013 6:26 pm

    Thanks for this post. It came at just the right time as I’m about to meet with my agent about my goals for 2013 :] It doesn’t seem as daunting now!

  2. California Triple-Threat permalink
    January 14, 2013 6:58 pm

    I have a fear that someone will catch me in my “fake it till you make it” trend and kick me out. Why do we do this to ourselves? Thanks for this post, GA. 🙂

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