One of the toughest challenges actors encounter during acting auditions is convincing casting directors they actually deserve the role. Although it is already known that they have to compete with A-listers and professionals, the fact that they’re going to face people with a real eye for talent makes entering the entertainment business a hard-to-reach dream.
But in reality, casting directors aren’t there to frighten or discourage actors. Their work is basically to find the perfect talent who is qualified for a role. So, for sure, they’ll do everything to push everyone to show their best. While some may take this negatively, actually, it’s something that you should keep in mind when you get to meet these professionals personally.
If ever you get invited to an audition, here are the possible faces who might help you launch a successful career in Hollywood:
American casting director Ellen Chenoweth became a part of the casting industry in the mid-1970s. At that time, she was appointed as the office manager for the Actors Studio.
“I was a young girl exploring possibilities in New York. Lee Strasberg, Elia Kazan, and Arthur Penn were all there. I was putting together casts for Studio projects and people started calling me from outside for recommendations,” she remembered.
In 1980, she begun casting for a variety of films, which included Down and Out in Beverly Hills, Broadcast News, The Natural, Ruthless People, No Country for Old Men, Michael Clayton, Doubt, Burn After Reading, Good Night and Good Luck, Gran Torino, and Men in Black 3.
Ellen’s eye for promising talents goes back to her very first screen assignment, which was to assist casting director Mike Fenton on the 1981 film for television City in Fear. She said:
“We were looking for this psycho killer. We just couldn’t cast this young guy. Director Jud Taylor said, ‘Where are the new Dennis Hoppers?’ I said, ‘I’ve got this friend.’ They said, ‘Just bring him in. We don’t care anymore'”.
She immediately called theater actor Mickey Rourke, and fortunately, he got the part. After a year, Mickey landed his breakthrough role in the film, Body Heat. The following year, she cast him again in the comedy drama movie, Diner.
Other than casting, Ellen also has a hand in choosing music for movies. She said, “I have done it a few times, such as on Wag the Dog, and I love it”.
Sarah Finn has always been passionate about the entertainment business. She said she has always “loved theater from a young age and was writing and directing plays since second grade – as far as she can remember”.
Sarah grew up in a creative environment. Because of that, she found herself interested in various fields of entertainment, such as directing, marketing, producing, and writing. In order to hone her talents and take her career to a whole new level, she attended Yale University, where she double-majored in history and drama.
After graduating, she moved to New York and became a member of the theater company The Ensemble studio Theater. There, she got to do everything a person can do in the theater.
She recalled, “If you wanted to be a director, you better be good at lighting, and if you wanted to be an actress, you’d better be able to stage manage. While I always thought I was pursuing a career in acting, I was always involved in other things. Casting, I feel is a bit of producing, a bit of directing, and a bit of acting, and you kind of have to know all three areas really well”.
Sarah has since put her passion and time into her work. For that reason, she has come so far. Now, she is noted for assembling Marvel’s The Avengers and for choosing the ensemble of cast for Crash, Seven Psychopaths, Iron Man, and Guardians of the Galaxy.
As a casting director, Scott David has been working on the television series Criminal Minds for ten years. And, he thinks it is really a challenging job. Even so, he still has time to conduct casting calls for various independent films.
Scott’s interest in casting started when he moved to Chicago, Illinois. He was supposed to be in Sales, however, he fell into casting when he met Marilyn Mandel, a casting director, who asked him whether he wanted to work for her. He accepted the offer and started assisting her in the office. He did this job for a couple of years until he finally worked his way up.
When asked to describe what makes a good audition, he simply said, “The basic one is being right for the role, in tone, and in your essence. The other thing is being prepared, in a good audition, you must be prepared – you must know the lines, you must be off the book, and you must listen, so you can take adjustments and direction at moments notice”.
Born in Santa Monica, California, Judy Taylor is the Senior Vice President of Casting and Talent Relations of Disney Channels Worldwide. Although she is an in-house casting director, she still travels to find talents, but most of the time, for starring roles. She discovered some of the most sought after stars of today like Selena Gomez.
There isn’t much information about how she became Disney’s casting director. But, when asked about how the entertainment company finds talent, she stated, “We try here at Disney Channel, for many reasons, to look everywhere and have open calls all over the place to reach kids who may not have the chance to audition if they were only taking place in L.A. or New York”.
Since there are plenty of acting roles for Disney Channel, Judy normally hires freelance casting directors to conduct daily casting calls for series and films. And usually, these CDs call agents to bring in talents to audition for specific roles.
Judy has a piece of advice for anyone who wants to be a part of the Disney family. She said, “We cast our Disney Channel series and movies to be reflective of our diverse audience, so just be yourself and let your unique personality shine”.
As a starting actor, it is best to find and meet the right people to survive in this highly-competitive industry. You don’t want to go around in circles for several years without achieving any real results. But, if ever this happens, do not let it discourage you from pursuing your dream. Just keep on attending acting auditions and let these casting directors guide you on your way to the top.