We know that the holidays are one of the most fruitful, magical, and emotional times of the year because it is about family, rituals and childhood. You can read many tips about how people can avoid holiday triggers, however for actors, it’s the opposite. You want to discover triggers and learn about yourself during this time because you can add to your acting arsenal.


If you are working, you get the chance to do double duty by observing behavior. We know that the holidays are a stressful time for many. How do people push through crowded lines to get what they want? How do they pull out their credit cards or pay cash? You can tell by a customer’s physical behavior if they are trying to keep it together or are on the brink of losing it. Depending on where you are in the country, notice how people are dealing with the weather. If they are cold, how do they walk into a department store or restaurant and warm themselves up? How do they talk on the phone? Try and guess what the relationship is to the person on the other end. Observe your family like never before. So, keep a journal of small things and write specifically about how people shop, argue, spend money, deal with stress and celebrate. Be fascinated by what provides conflict, closeness and gratitude.


The holiday is about family. You’re close. You’re estranged. You disagree. You fight. You make up and then you start all over again. Every time emotions come up, don’t push them down. If you shut down, watch yourself shutting down and work to stay open so you can be in the moment and be aware. Don’t be scared and run away. Feel the power of your emotions. Laugh, have fun. Feel your aliveness. Stay in touch with your spirituality, whatever it means to you.



Stay stimulated. Use the opportunity to go to the museum exhibit you haven’t had time to go to. See all the movies, the great TV shows, binge on Breaking Bad, Downton Abbey, Masters of Sex, Homeland, Orange Is the New Black, and so many others. Get tickets to the riveting play you’ve wanted to see. Pick up the novels you’ve wanted to read. Surprise yourself with conversations with family and friends and others that you’ve never had before. Create art—paint a canvas, write a song, an article, a short, an outline to a screenplay, a play, or write the whole thing! This is a prolific time of the year. On Dec. 31, create your own vision board for 2016. Before the new year kicks in, ask yourself what you want to accomplish.


If you must drink, use the experience to learn about sensory. You would not believe how many calls I get from actors on set freaking out about how to play a drunk scene and the morning after hangover!


Find an organization where you can go and be of service. Every time you put that energy forward, it helps you to deepen your humanity.


Take a few days to do nothing. And I mean nothing. Stop the machine and just be.

Michelle Danner is a renowned acting coach who works with A-List Actors privately as well as on set. Michelle trained with Stella Adler and Uta Hagen and was voted favorite acting coach by Backstage readers and featured coaching Andy Richter on The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien.  Michelle has two books coming out in 2016, The Daily Ritual and The Golden Box.  Please find more about Michelle and her acting classes at

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