by Paul Russell
Should Actors Send Thank You Cards To Agents, Casting Directors & Directors After Every Audition?
A $10 to $15 gift-card as a “Thank You for Seeing Me” must be sent by every actor to each director, casting director and talent representative after that actor has been granted each audition opportunity by the entertainment industry gate-keepers. Your forehead just creased like corduroy after your having read that absurdity. There’s a foolish New York acting teacher who has been advising this costly and hollow advisory to his students.
Recently I received a distressing e-mail regarding thank you cards and accompanying ‘gifts’ from the mother of an actress who was terribly led astray by a questionable professional:
I just finished reading your book ACTING: Make it Your Business. You seemed to welcome questions from readers, so I thought I’d try to e-mail you.
My daughter has been taking one-on-one acting lessons with a teacher in NY. You had suggested in your book that thank yous should always be sent after auditions. He suggested that when we go to auditions, or to those paid sessions where we are seen by agents/casting directors, we send thank you comp cards with a short note from her, as well as a Starbucks gift card ($10-15).
- Do you think this is appropriate? I am not sure how this ‘gift’ might be interpreted.
- How far out can we wait to send them? Is 3-4 weeks reasonable?
Thank you for your help. B.
After I cooled my anger for the acting teacher who is suggesting actors guilt gate-keepers with gift cards, I responded:
Handwritten thank you cards via Hallmark or Papyrus stationary are always welcomed (and in this digital revolution…rare); especially if the handwritten note includes a personal message relating to the audition/auditor thanking the professional for something they said and/or did for which you and your daughter deeply appreciated. The thank you card will be most effective when sent within twenty-four hours of the audition/meeting while the just-passed moment remains relevant to both the sender and receiver.
As to the Starbucks gift card…the teacher who suggested such may be imposing his desire for getting his daily caffeine intake gratis via actors as often as is possible.
Gifts of appreciation accompanying a handwritten missive are only warranted when the situation calls for such as when a director, casting director and/or agent assists an actor booking a job, or the employment provider went above and beyond the normal bounds of duty.
When ‘gifts’ are given by actors to auditors for the auditors just being corporeal in the room no ‘bribe’ is going to move a true professional to recognize an actor more. And ‘bribe’ is how an unwarranted thank you gift is viewed by my above-board colleagues. You may want to question what other advice the gratis coffee-seeking teacher of our trade has misdirected you. I’m dismayed that a professional would dispense the costly and ineffective marketing ploy that benefits the receiver far beyond what it does for the sender.
Basic Thank You Audition / Meeting follow-up Guidelines for Actors:
- A handwritten thank you is most effective when personalized with an anecdotal reference
- Send a thank you for the occasion(s) in which you and the person(s) met had a sincere connection professionally and/or personally that you truly cherished or was of great benefit to you
- Avoid the costly and time wasting thank yous after each open call and/or EPA you attend in which there was no engagement beyond the requisite professional courtesy between yourself and the personnel behind the table. Open call thanks yous are best to be sent when the audition conversation led to a callback and/or a one-on-one exchange that changed your professional and/or life outlook
- If a gift is included, the thought behind the accompanying gift should be heartfelt and not viewed as a tax deduction to be later labeled in April as ‘business expense.’
Handwritten thank you cards are always welcomed when the thought behind the sender’s intent is of sincere gratitude, and not a marketing ploy. Get your heart and pen to a desk the next time you wish to say, “Thank you.”
Paul Russell’s career as a casting director, director, acting teacher, and former actor has spanned thirty years. He’s worked on projects for major film studios, television networks, and Broadway. Paul’s taught the business of acting and audition technique at NYU, and speaks at universities including Elon, Yale, Temple and the University of the Arts. He is the author of ACTING: Make It Your Business – How to Avoid Mistakes and Achieve Success as a Working Actor. For more information, please visit www.PaulRussell.net.