By Casting Directors Risa Bramon Garcia, Christy Faison (HBO series, Boss), Jami Rudofsky (Gilmore Girls, Masters of Sex w/Risa), and Brennan du Fresne Schulweis (CSI:NY, Spiderman). Why do we cast you? Let us count the ways. Is it your bubbly personality? Your having memorized your lines? Your fabulous new shoes or your period dress dug up from mom’s closet? The fact you did a network pilot in 2006?
There are way too many external forces that enter into it. But in the end, it’s the undeniable talent and deeply connected work that you bring into the room that matters most. After distilling our collective experiences, here are some specific reasons why we cast you:
1. You’re talented. You’ve shown that over and over again. In a play, a short film, a guest role, in class, a workshop… Or any combo of the above.
2. You know somebody. Yes that does impact decisions. The good news is, you might know the casting director, the associate, the producer, director, writer… The more working relationships you develop in the industry, the more likely you’ll keep working with your colleagues again. That said, you still have to bring your talent, preparation, and individuality into the room.
3. You’re “hot” right now. You just got raves in a play. You just did a flashy turn on a Netflix show. Your character was just killed off in a series. Take advantage of any celebrated work you’ve done. Make sure we know about it.
4. You’ve recently graduated from a prominent acting program. You’ve got the weight of that college or theatre training behind you. Use it.
5. You’re in town for “pilot season” or the summer… And we don’t know you but your reputation precedes you, from your work on stage in NY, Chicago, regional theatre, etc.
6. You’ve been in the room before. You’ve done wonderful work reading for another role, often more than once. Everybody remembers wonderful work.
7. You’ve read for us on a play, a short, a web series, even a reading. It may have been some time ago. It may have been for something very small. But we remember your committed, bold reading.
8. You were prepared and professional. You’d done your homework and you made bold choices. No excuses, apologies, or baggage. It was clear that you’re about the work and not lost in “pleasing us” or “doing it right.” We know that you can step on set and bring the same professionalism and preparedness.
9. You were available to take direction, to play, to collaborate. You asked thoughtful questions and let the answers inform your choices. At the same time you didn’t wait or expect to be directed. You were able to meet us in the work.
10. You brought something new, fresh, and smart to the table. Your choices were personal and alive. You were bold enough to inhabit the role and the scene so fully that it felt like we were hearing the material for the first time. And from then on, we directed everyone else to do what you did. But be assured, they didn’t quite capture your unique choice.
11. You came in for a pre-read or taped audition even though you’ve read for us several times before. No ego about it. You showed up to do your work and shared yourself with us in a more intimate way than in front of a room full of producers.
12. For a small role you kept it simple, you were alive in that one moment. You understood that smaller roles are often there to move the story along. You didn’t make it more than it was but you did bring a specific life to the world. And realize, in smaller roles, you’re often cast because you were “the guy.” Sometimes it’s as simple as that. You looked and felt right.
14. Your work moved us on an emotional level. Chemicals were released. Our stressful day was suddenly uplifted by the personal, courageous, emotionally connected experience you shared with us.
15. It was a joy to spend time with you. You brought your open heart, your vulnerability, your love of the work into the room. We want to spend more time with you. And a whole bunch more reasons.
There are no absolutes. So many factors go into making a casting choice. And you have no control over most of this process. What you do have control over is the kind of work you bring into a casting room, the way you approach each experience, and the joy you share in doing the work for it’s own sake. If you allow yourself to be fully present, bold, specific, emotionally engaged, and you share that with us as your collaborators… If you bring yourself fully to the work, we will fall in love. We will be your champions. And if it’s not this role, then another one. But you’re in our hearts and minds for good. Also visit Backstage for this piece: Why We Cast You?!