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30+ Gifts Actors REALLY Need

It makes sense that people with the ability to perform a flawless 500 word monologue with blistered feet and under hot lights during a year-round allergy season compounded with that endless weight of existential dread (oh, just me then?) would be well-practiced in making things look effortless. But behind it, these folks are also running a full-time business. Here are a few things to make their journey a little easier. (Many thanks to my wonderful friends who contributed to this guide; may Santa bring you a contract of gold.) *P.S., I’ve rounded things up to the nearest dollar because it’s much easier to read.

Subscriptions

Casting Websites

Actors spend a staggering amount of money just to have the ability to be submitted for any job through various casting services. And the rub is that they often are expected to be on most, if not ALL of them simultaneously.

Actor’s Access– $68/yr. This also includes access to Showfax.com for audition sides.
LACasting -$15/mo (free for represented actors), but posting new photos ($25/ea) and video clips ($5/mo) is another option.
Backstage.com– $140/yr gives you access to casting calls and the digital edition of Backstage Magazine.

Passes/Memberships

MoviePass– starts at $15/month. An excellent way to keep up with new releases, this pass allows the cardholder to see a new film each day.
Center Theatre Group Annual Membership– $125/yr. Perks include same seat guarantee for all performances, saving up to 50% on tickets, and special ticket pre-sales.
AAA-Prices Vary. Los Angeles is a car town, and cars are expensive and have a knack for breaking down at the worst times. This card is a savior.

Streaming Services

HBO Now-$15/month – The best writing and acting is on television these days. YMMV.
Netflix -starts at $8/month. The home of the binge-watch.
Hulu – starts at $8/month. Online home to tons of movies and television shows, including classics (Cheers, Saved by the Bell, Seinfeld) and treasures from across the pond (Miranda, Absolutely Fabulous, Fry and Laurie).

Magazines

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Entertainment Weekly– $25/yr (50 issues). This classic entertainment magazine still dishes up solid content every week.

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Filmmaker Magazine– $18/Year. Quarterly magazine that focuses on independent film. A subscription comes with access to 9 years of digital archives.

Gym Memberships

As a general note, this sort of gift is only recommended if the recipient either A/is a gym rat already or B/Has expressed interest in becoming one. Otherwise, I wouldn’t recommend it. Actors face a lot of scrutiny already, and giving an unwanted gym membership could be interpreted as a hurtful personal judgement. (Many local gyms will cut a deal that is less than the advertised price if you let them know you’re an actor.)

Traditional Gym Options

LA Fitness -as low as $20/month with $100 initiation fee. 6 Los Angeles Locations
24 Hour Fitness– starts at $40/month with $50 initiation. 3 locations in LA proper–located in Hollywood and eastward.
Crunch -$80/month and $40 annual fee. Locations in West Hollywood and Burbank.
Equinox -starts at $206/month. 7 LA locations.

Boutique Fitness Options

Boutique fitness studios usually offer related classes in a single discipline–ballet-inspired, crossfit, boxing, pilates, yoga–you get the idea.

Bar Method – $99/first month for new clients. I’m personally a huge fan of Bar Method. They’re inclusive, upbeat, and I’ve seen my share of models sweating alongside everyone else at the bar. 4 LA locations.

Barry’s Bootcamp– $28/class . The famous Barry’s has 4 Los Angeles locations. I’ve been told its like a nightclub where you sweat and get yelled at. I don’t know how accurate that is.

Annnnnd, a birdy just told me that LAist did an excellent writeup of boutique studios on their website, you can see that here.

Training

There is an oft-repeated saying in LA that if actors aren’t working, they should be training. And a good education adds up real fast. Here are the top picks from my friends and clients that book.

Improv

Most people will tell you an improv class is a rite of passage. Still waiting to hear otherwise.

The Second City – $370/improv basics class series. Famous alumni include : Alan Arkin, Dan Akroyd, John Candy, Steve Carell, Stephen Colbert, Chris Farley, Tina Fey, Jane Lynch, Jack McBrayer, Gilda Radner, Harold Ramis and a TON more.

Upright Citizens Brigade (UCB) – $450/improv 101. Famous alumni include : Kate McKinnon, Rob Riggle, Ellie Kemper, Donald Glover, Aziz Ansari and Amy Poehler.

The Groundlings – $510/basic improv. Famous alumni include :Melissa McCarthy, Jennifer Coolidge, Will Forte, Ana Gasteyer, Kristen Wiig, Will Ferrell, Kathy Griffin and many more.

iO West – $380/intro to improv. Famous alumni and teachers include : Tina Fey, Bill Hader, Jon Favreau, Amy Poehler, Angela Kinsey, Scott Adsit, and more.

Commercial

Killian’s Workshop– $285/foundation class. Commercial audition workshops taught by a successful commercial actor/commercial casting director. He has a wait list for a reason.

Carolyne Barry– $475/commercial auditioning 1. Another commercial class taught/overseen by a commercial casting director.

Classical Theatre/Dance/Movement

Antaeus Academy– from $335/8 weeks. Revered Los Angeles theatre company was founded by actors solely upon their love of classical texts. They have new classes every quarter that include training in Shakespeare, movement, voice and dialects. All classes are taught by folks at the top of their game.  An absolute treasure.

Debbie Reynolds Dance Studio – $11/class for union members. Yep, THAT Debbie Reynolds. Offers diverse classes that include jazz, hip-hop, salsa, and ballet.

The Edge Performing Arts Center– $65/5 class pass. The famous center offers classes from absolute beginner ( 4 week intro to tap) to pro and everything in between.

Things you can wrap

Because sometimes you want to cover stuff in really pretty paper.

Self-Tape Necessities

Actors are often expected to audition via video submission, and these things will make the process much easier. (GEEZ THESE LINKS ARE UGLY.)

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LED Lights- $32/each. These lights are a bargain for the price and power output. I use them to self-tape for several of my friends. Here’s a link to a video that shows how easy they are to use.

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Phone Tripod Mount- $15. This guy will save your life when doing self tapes. People will no longer have to juggle being a scene partner and holding the camera steady. (and in the right direction.

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Tripod- $17. The last thing isn’t terribly helpful without this.

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Microphone with USB connection-$120. So many voiceover auditions can be recorded at home. This came highly recommended from a VO actor. When shopping around, be wary, as not all microphones come with a USB connection like this one. A little on the pricier side of this list, but a good mic is worth its weight in gold.

Looking The Part

A perfect polish ain’t easy.

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Make Up For Ever HD Microfinish Powder- $28.50. This stuff is great for EVERYONE! Everyone gets shiny, and shiny doesn’t do anyone any favors. It is colorless, so it works with all skin tones, and it makes your skin look DIVINE on camera. Perfect for looking great on those sweltering summer days.

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Naked (Original) Eyeshadow Palette from Urban Decay– $54. Last year, Allure Magazine ran an article wherein they stated that one of these palettes is sold every six seconds. This is the holy grail for being able to create natural makeups that look great on camera. (I have both this and the second one, and have used them endlessly.)

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St. Tropez Gradual Tan Lotion- $25. You know when everyone gets a call to be sun-kissed and wear a swimsuit? Whenever they haven’t seen the sun in weeks. As a proponent of slathering on sunscreen, I have to vouch for this for a natural looking glow.

Things They’ll Use Every Day

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Beltbox Vocal Dampener For Performers- $50. Designed so that anyone can sing or act their heart out without getting yelled at by the neighbors. More information here.

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Brother Monochrome Printer- $65. Not everyone has a home-printer, which proves pretty inconvenient for that last-minute audition. One of my friends is a series regular, and this bad-boy has been spitting out his audition pages for 3 seasons and counting.

HEADSHOTS

Like I was gonna let it go without mentioning these! They are, by FAR, an actor’s biggest expense and most-important marketing tool. A headshot package from a good photographer is a game changer. Here are a few recent favorites from some of my shoots.

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I hope this post helps with your last-minute gift giving. I used affiliate links (obvs, cause they’re ugly and I’m new at this.) But only on things I was going to post anyway, so using them or not, I highly recommend everything on this list. What did I miss?!?! Let me know in the comments.

 

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