Recently, one of my Casting colleagues lamented that she wished actors knew how hard we work for them. It made me realize that there’s a whole mountain of activity we Casting Directors do that actors (and other industry folk) really aren’t privy to.
So here is a brief list, specific to the things we do to help actors get the job. By no means is it limited to the below, nor do we do all of these things on a daily basis. It also doesn’t include the obvious: run auditions/watch tapes, provide direction, etc.:
1. Edit your reel/self-tape/audition clips to best present you to producers.
2. Pull photos of you from any/everywhere on the internet that are character/world appropriate to help people with their imaginations.
3. Make collages of you with other cast members for the sake of resemblance and/or to help people see a fuller picture of the beautiful people in contention.
4. Re-style you in the audition room, (change your hair, remove your jewelry, have you put on our jacket, etc.) to better reflect the character.
5. Download your tapes and reels/Upload your tapes and reels/Sync clips/Check that the video plays/Re-order your scenes so the first clip up is the strongest/Repeat – all day, every day.
6. Write blog posts/tweet/do panels/teach classes to help demystify the process and give you confidence when you go to audition.
7. GUSH about you to our producers and to your reps.
8. Liaise between studio/network execs, our producers, your reps CONSTANTLY so everyone is looped in and nobody loses an opportunity or an actor they love.
9. Look up flights online to prove to our line producer that there IS a way to get you to set in time to wardrobe/shoot.
10. Provide constructive, workshop-like notes for re-tapes when the director says, “Just have them tape again,” and leaves it at that.
11. Advocate for more roles to be open to any gender, any ethnicity, any physical ability.
12. Provide other deeply talented, realistic options when our wide-eyed, passionate director says they want Anthony Hopkins to do a scale role.
13. Keep files of actors FOREVER (online, hard copy, in our brains, etc.) so we can keep tabs on our favorite people and see them as often as possible.
14. Work with our production and your other project to make sure you can logistically work on both and that everyone is protected from flight delays/weather issues/etc.
15. Push production for more money for you.
16. Strenuously recommend fewer pages of sides for the first rounds of auditions.
17. Make sure you have all the information possible to succeed when you go in to meet/read, including, but not limited to parking instructions, all producer names and/or credits, word pronunciations, a page of terminology and references when you can’t have a full script, a phone call/audition/meeting with us beforehand to answer questions and so you know you have an advocate in the room.
18. Put our feelings in a box when we are having a super shitty day because we know that you get your energy from us in the audition room.
19. Show up on a Saturday because we KNOW you are the right person and that’s the only day you have available to read/meet before leaving town.
20. Don’t mention the things on this list because it’s part of our job and we don’t think of any of this as out of the ordinary.
**Photo courtesy of one very special post-pilot season affair, hosted by the always-wonderful Yesi Ramirez, where a bunch of us stressed Casting folk got to let loose and show off our goofy sides.**
Let’s talk about rejection. [Insert sad trombone noise.]
You all know that if you’re an artist, rejection is part of the gig. And even though you may be FULLY aware of that fact, every “no” can still feel personal. At best, rejection will (always) sting a little, and at worst, will feel utterly crushing.
Now that we’re through pilot season, (also known as the time of year when “no” is most heavily employed,) let me help put those feelings into perspective:
“No” is not failure; it’s “Not this time.”
My brilliant mother has been my #1 cheerleader and emotional guide as I’ve faced rejection in my career. (And just like you, I’ve endured PLENTY. Solidarity, people.) She recently wrote an article wherein she says, “Rejection isn’t because someone doesn’t like you. It’s because they like something/someone else.” (Emphasis mine.)
When it comes to industry rejection, this is WHOLLY accurate. If you aren’t cast in a role, it’s because the team liked somebody else more. And someday, if you work at your craft and behave professionally, YOU will be the somebody else they like more. In the meantime, you’ll face rejection. And in that, you’re never alone. Only one person can be cast per role. That is a single, solitary “yes” to a heaping pile of “no’s.”
The best way to manage the underlying negativity of that fact is to hold on to a little perspective. I’ve had actors reach out to me, concerned that they’ve been pinned/released for the same Casting office multiple times. They’re worried that because they aren’t having those pins turn into bookings that they MUST be doing something wrong, and surely the Casting office will eventually stop seeing them. But realistically, EVERY pin is a major victory. Their perspective has gotten skewed by the feeling of rejection. Celebrate all the victories (big and small) you achieve while on your path, because those are the yes’s you need to keep coming back to this crazy business.
I’ll finish with this:
Last year, Dave Annable did a pilot. The pilot got picked up to series (yay!) but Annable did not (womp womp.) He wrote a (now famously) thoughtful post about it wherein he celebrates the achievement of so many and forces himself to move on. Here’s a brief snippet, but make sure you read the full post for a true lesson of grace while facing massive disappointment:
“Learning to deal with failure is one of the most important lessons you’ll deal with in your life. Guess what? Failure is mandatory. It’s growth. It’ll never stop. It’s where all the good shit happens that makes you a better person when you are open to seeing the right perspective.”
Hold on to that perspective, my friends. It’s all part of the job.
It’s a stressful time of year. Many of us cling to whatever form of sanity (read: wine) to help us survive until mid-April. But as you all know, the more we let anxiety and stress into our bodies, the harder it is to function. So here are a few helpful mantras or mindsets to aid your sanity this pilot season, and beyond.
Remember these buzzwords: ENCOURAGEMENT, ENTHUSIASM, PASSION, TEAMWORK, GRATITUDE.
And here’s how you can apply them, (these are just a few examples. There are MANY ways you can connect these to your careers and lives):
1. ENCOURAGEMENT: “Casting WANTS me to be the one!”
- Seriously, we are ON YOUR SIDE. If you are the one, that means that A. You’ve validated our creative choice to see you in the first place, and B. Our job is done (at least on that character.) Walk in to every Casting office and remember (no matter how cranky we are,) we are ROOTING FOR YOU. Feel the love, y’all.
2. ENTHUASIAM: “I love a challenge!”
- Pilot season is hard, the audition process (any time of year!) can be stressful, things move quickly, sides change at the last minute, self-tapes are due in a matter of hours, etc. Prepare for these opportunities as if you’re running towards a hurdle; put your heart and energy into it and then fly, my friends. The immediate moment after can feel like a MAJOR “fuck yeah!! I did it!”
3. PASSION: “Every audition is an opportunity for me to do what I love.”
- Sure, auditioning isn’t the best part of being an actor, but every chance you get to sink your teeth into a new script, embody a new character and perform or workshop a scene is a big win. Enjoy the ride, my friends.
4. TEAMWORK: “Every Casting office that sees me sets the course for a new relationship or strengthens an old one.”
- It’s a business of relationship folks! If you go into a room or send in a tape and nail that read while behaving/communicating professionally, you will UNDOUBTEDLY audition for that Casting team again. Strengthen the connection, make Casting fall in love with your talent and attitude, and you will be back before you know it.
5. GRATITUDE: “I’m grateful I have a strong team that works hard to get me these opportunities.”
- In signing you, your reps have said “yes, I believe in your talent.” They’re working hard, doing their part to provide opportunities so you can go shine. Remember to acknowledge them in your heart, AND out loud.
Work hard and stay positive, my people! You got this.
As we head in to the craziest time of year, here are a few things to remember (in no particular order):
1. Practice patience with appointments and sessions. Appointments or self-tape requests may not be flooding in yet. Stay calm and read this blog post.
And please be patient with Casting when we run an hour or more behind during our sessions. We are trying to spend ample time with each actor and sometimes have to step out for various reasons. If you get in a time bind, instead of silently (or loudly) freaking out, just tell someone and we’ll either squeeze you in with the permission of others or reschedule you.
2. Be kind to the casting assistant. These amazing people work SO hard, are multitasking their brains out, are wildly underpaid, and they are always our first line of defense, often manning the overflowing waiting room. They face the abuse of cranky, restless, annoyed, late/about-to-be-late-to-another-appt actors all while trying to do their jobs. Be good to these people. They could be the future of our craft and they might have long memories for being mistreated by guests in our office. (Plus, karma yo.)
3. If you’re sick, reschedule. ‘Tis the season for the sniffles (or worse.) A sickness can FLY through a Casting office, (we work in tiny rooms, seeing dozens of people a day. Sh*t spreads FAST.) And if WE get sick during pilot season, we get zero days off to recuperate. So if you feel even a WHIFF of an illness, stay home, rest and reschedule or self-tape. Everyone will appreciate it.
4. Don’t be offended if we tell you we’re not doing one of the scenes you prepped. We don’t like having to do this… we know you spent time preparing it and we know you’ll give us sad puppy dog eyes if we pull it at the last moment. But things change RAPIDLY during pilot season. We may discover that the tone of a scene is redundant (we get the same idea from another scene,) the scene may have gotten cut and no one feels the need to keep it in the audition rotation, the character may have changed and that scene no longer reflects the role… If we pull a scene, there’s a creative/logistical reason and it’s never because you’re not a worthy-enough actor to read an extra few pages.
5. No excuses, please. We know it’s a busy time of year and you may have four auditions a day, all over town. We know you also have lives and families and day jobs, etc. We are also fully aware that sometimes we give you material only a few hours before your audition. Walk in to every pilot audition with a GOOD attitude and an open mind. If you’re there, ready and willing to play and have prepped to the best of your abilities with the time you were given, then we’re all going to have a good time.
6. A self-tape request is JUST as valuable as an in-person audition. This and many other important things can be further extrapolated from this blog post.
7. If you are given a script, read it. It has become increasingly rare for scripts, particularly drama scripts, to be sent out for auditions. (We know this is frustrating. It drives us crazy, too.) If you are the lucky soul who receives a script along with your sides, we expect you to read it. Nothing is more frustrating to have provided all of that wonderful information and have actors come in and say they don’t really know what’s going on because they didn’t have time to read the script. (Wanna know why our session is backed up? We are CONSTANTLY providing context/backstory to actors because they haven’t read or weren’t given a script.)
8. Stay in town! (Unless you book a gig/have a family emergency.) Seriously. This is 100% NOT the time to take a vacation/extended weekends in places that have bad cell/internet reception. (Sundance falling right in the midst of pilot season is the BANE of every CD’s existence.) If you need further explanation on this topic, speak to your reps. I’m sure they’ll have plenty to say.
9. It is ABSOLUTELY cool to share your passion if you love a script or really resonate with a character. Actors will often apologize for being effusive about a script/role. We LOVE that feedback! It validates OUR creative choice to be part of that project! Plus, we pass that feedback along to our writer and producers and it helps make for a very bright spot during a very stressful time. Don’t ever apologize for sharing your true passion or fighting for an opportunity.
10. It’s not ok to purposely show up several hours early for your in-person audition.
Mistakes happen, especially when you’re juggling so many appointments. But if you deliberately show up to our office two hours early because you were “close by and thought we could squeeze you in,” it can throw off our whole day. (Even TWO actors showing up for the morning session when they were scheduled for the afternoon could mean that we don’t eat lunch that day.) If you need to change your appointment time, have your reps call and we will find a time that works for everybody.
And one more for the road…
11. Pilot season doesn’t define you as an actor. Say it with me: “PILOT SEASON DOES NOT DEFINE YOU AS AN ACTOR.” Repeat as needed.
Go get ’em, pals.
My Grandmother can easily be credited with kick-starting my Casting career.
When I was 15 or 16 years old, we were watching a movie together and as the end credits rolled, I saw “Casting By Ronnie Yeskel.” I turned to my Grandma, “Are we related to Ronnie Yeskel?” (My Grandma’s sister married a Yeskel.) “Yep! Distantly,” she answered.
My interest was piqued. I had ZERO idea what “Casting” meant, what it involved, how you did it or how you became someone who had a career in it, but I had a good guess that Casting was related to actors. And through Ronnie, I sort of “knew” somebody who did it. Those two things seemed pretty awesome to me. My Grandma, ever the educator and go-getter, saw my interest, (and also saw that I was in North Dakota where I was unlikely to gain any sort of relevant experience or find any information on the career,) and set out to help me learn more about it.
During one visit to Manhattan, she bought me an issue of the Ross Reports. There was a big article listing that year’s “Top 10 Casting Directors” with interviews and the occasional (gasp!) email address. (This was the late 90s… Casting was still very much a messenger/snail mail field.) I wrote to every CD who listed an address, asking how they became Casting Directors and what I should do to follow in their footsteps. One of them wrote back. I don’t remember much about our exchange (and those emails have gone the way of my aol account,) but I do remember him saying that there’s nothing you could study in school to be a CD and that I should start interning immediately.
Thus, my NJ-based Grandma set out on a quest to find me an internship. She doesn’t have any direct connection to the industry herself, but she has friends who have friends and she’s not afraid to ask. A few months before I graduated high school, my Grandma called to tell me that she had gotten me an internship at a NY talent agency for the summer. If I wanted it, I had to call this number and say I was Marion Landew’s granddaughter and yes, I’d be thrilled to have the opportunity.
So I did exactly that. I was 18 years old, taking the train from my grandparents’ house in Jersey into Manhattan every day. After a few weeks doing all kinds of tasks from calling to release clients after a commercial hold (ugh,) to sorting head shots, to working the front desk, some kind agents asked me what I REALLY wanted to do. “I think I want to be a Casting Director,” I said. The next day, one of the assistants called to tell me that instead of coming in to the office, I should go to this other building. I was going to help out a commercial Casting Director for a day while she had a session.
I sat in that hot waiting room, (July in New York with maybe a whiff of window AC,) checking actors in, taking their Polaroids, answering phones, pointing people in the direction of the bathroom… it was a (sweaty) three hour day of work and it might’ve been the most exciting three hours of my life. After that, I had no doubt that I wanted to be a Casting Director.
Flash forward a few years… I’ve just graduated from USC and I’m trying to find a job as a Casting Assistant in Los Angeles. By now, I’ve had about eight different internships, many of them coming by way of the previous thanks to that very first Grandma-supplied opportunity in New York. Lo and behold, one day I see a notice that Ronnie Yeskel is looking for an assistant. I’m literally panting with anticipation as I shoot her an email and not-so-subtly say that “if nothing else, it would be great to meet a member of my family.”
A few days later, I go in to interview with Ronnie. She asks me some cursory questions and then after a few minutes blurts, “so, HOW exactly are we related?” I explain: my grandmother is Marion, her sister is Evelyn and she’s married to Stanley. Ronnie nods and then dials someone on speaker phone. A woman picks up and Ronnie says, “Mom… do you know Marion Landew?” “Oh yes!” her mom says. “That’s Stanley and Evelyn’s sister. You’ve met her before at so-and-so’s Bar Mitzvah.” The conversation goes on a few more minutes. Ronnie is smiling ear-to-ear by the end of the call and I leave that meeting having been given a job assisting the woman who first piqued my interest in the field.
If it weren’t for my Grandmother, there’s a decent chance I would be doing something else right now. When I was first interested in Casting, there were not many places I could go to find information. It was at such a pivotal (about-to-apply-to-college) point in my life, that I could’ve just as easily gone on and studied some other part of film (or something else entirely.) She guided my research and knocked on doors when I had no idea where or how to begin doing either.
I name-dropped the hell out of her to get my first internship and my first full-time gig. But then, I have always been proud to introduce myself as “Marion Landew’s granddaughter.”
As the Geoffrey Owens story reverberated around the internet last week, I was literally vibrating with utter rage at this view of actors/artists, and the idea that to work a day job or a second job makes you sad or unsuccessful. Geoffrey is not only a WILDLY talented actor, he is also a massively big-hearted and incredibly professional guy. I know because he’s worked for me, for little-to-no money, when I ecstatically cast him in a web series a million years ago.
And that brings up an important topic: if you are cast in a low-paying or no-paying job, (and supplementing your income some other way,) is that work any less valuable?
I have cast a number of projects that pay $100/day (web series, short films, ULB features,) or $9/performance (LA theatre.) I have cast many projects (including several TV shows,) where the union minimums were all we could pay, and that is sometimes far less than an actor’s earned quote. For ALL of these projects, I and the creative team involved would always want the best possible actor for the job: the actor who will elevate the material in ways we could only dream. So we would reach and hope to not insult anybody by offering a (sometimes laughably) nominal fee.
Of course, for these low-paying offers, Casting will often get passes based solely on the money; some actors prefer not to work for such low rates, and some simply can’t commit the time (child care, time away from other paying jobs, etc.) for that kind of fee. But we can get fabulous actors to come work for very little money because the script is SO good, or the producers all have track records, or because it’s an amazing program/school/cause, etc. In those cases, it is clear that the actor is not there for the money but for the creativity, or for the relationship-building, or to bolster and support a new/young/underrepresented filmmaker, or any other special combination of reasons with emotional value.
And guess what: every craft person in the entertainment industry has at one time or another worked for free or for very little. I have cast numerous plays and I get “paid” in the form of reserved seats to a performance, (and love, so much love.) The web series I cast Geoffrey in… I did that as a favor to the producers. For a number of the series I have worked on, I took a pay cut because I wanted to work on that particular project, with those people. I haven’t regretted any of them. Casting theatre is one of the most precious things I do; it fills my heart every time. All of the jobs I volunteered on or took pay cuts for were worth it for one reason or another. But I couldn’t have committed time to them if I didn’t have a second or third paying job to help cover my expenses. (Day care ain’t free, yo.)
(Addendum: I do RESENT one of these low-paying gigs. I don’t regret this particular project or my work on it, but I object to the way the producers valued my and the actors’ work.)
This is what we, as artists do. We make things work financially because we NEED to be creatively fulfilled. Are there times when we need to say “no” to low-paying/no-paying jobs: absolutely. Not every project or role will pay enough emotional dividends to make it worth the time or energy. It’s ok to pass on those ones.
Here’s an easy list of questions to ask yourself when faced with a low-paying/no paying/”please do me this favor” gig:
Q. Do I LOVE the script/role?
Q. Is there a chance this character could evolve and more work could come from it?
Q. Am I excited and energized to work with the creative team (Casting Directors, Director, Producers, Writer)?
Q. Am I feeling at all resentful because it seems like the project has a big budget but they’re shooting non-union (and paying very little)?
Q. Does the creative team and crew seem professional and respectful?
Q. Will this provide great footage for my reel OR a great relationship for future work?
Q. How much time is required? If it’s a long stretch of time, will I have time for another source of income?
Q. Is this a union job? Will it get me into the union?
Weigh the pros and cons each time so you are fully aware of the financial/emotional cost and payout. If it ultimately feels VALUABLE then it will be, even if it simply serves as a learning experience.
And in the meantime, remember that there is zero shame in working multiple jobs so as to allow yourself the freedom to take class, to write, to perform, to help out friends, to say “yes” when a low-paying acting job feels RIGHT… the freedom to pursue your dream career.
My biggest career regret doesn’t actually involve Casting. (Lord knows I’ve made plenty of mistakes in my career, but those all feel like true lessons and growth experiences, not regrets.) I think about this particular story often because when I was faced with a clear choice, I made the objectively wrong decision and the pain of that is still with me to this day.
When I was 23 years old, I was the associate producer on a big annual showcase. I had never had that kind of responsibility, and I truly LOVED it. I was so proud of the show and of our actors. I was beyond thrilled to be involved, especially in (what I deemed) was such an important capacity.
Three days before our first performance, during a tech rehearsal, I got a call from my Mom: my 92-year old grandfather (in North Dakota) had passed away. It’s Jewish custom to bury the dead quickly, so the funeral would be in two days, (the day of our final dress rehearsal and when everything needed to composed, compiled and in tip-top shape.) I was not close with this grandfather: there’s a mile-long story there, but suffice it to say that I would only want to be at the funeral to support the rest of my family. So my first reaction in hearing this news was to cry not in mourning but in total unfairness at the TIMING. This was my first really big and “important” job, and now I would have to fly home (at great cost,) to North Dakota to help eulogize a man for whom I didn’t particularly care, getting me back to LA after our opening performance. Not to mention that it was January and when you’re flying in and out of North Dakota in January, there is ZERO guarantee of getting anywhere, let alone on time.
My parents, being as supportive as ever, told me not to worry about coming home. Everyone understood that I had a “big job” and it was ok to stay in LA and focus on it. I told my boss what was going on and she was kind and sympathetic, but she also didn’t try to convince me to go. I took that as a sign that I really was NEEDED in LA, and flying home would clearly leave too many people in the lurch. I called my parents and told them I wouldn’t be there.
The day of the funeral, my Mom thoughtfully called me and held up her cell phone during the graveside service so I could hear what was happening. (Technology was pretty crappy then… I really couldn’t hear anything.) But by (literally) phoning in for the funeral, I felt absolved of my guilt for not being there. The service was short, and afterwards I hung up and went back to the booth to check on lighting cues.
The next day our show opened and everything went great; audiences loved it, the actors were getting great feedback, and I was flying on pure adrenaline. It was about a week later, once the dust had settled and life started to feel normal again, that I felt this hard stone of regret in my belly. I couldn’t shake the shame that grew from it and to this day, many (cough) years later, that lump of remorse is still very much with me.
At the end of the day, despite any nuances in my reasoning, I made a conscious decision to forgo a major family event because I thought I was irreplaceable and that they, (the show, the actors, my boss,) couldn’t function without me. (Hint: they ALL would’ve functioned JUST FINE without me. Self-importance – 1, Me – 0.) I will never forget the moment when it finally occurred to me that I had put my career before my family, and the clarity of how wrong that was.
So to all of you hard-working artists, you self-employed passionate people, heed this advice: you are human beings FIRST. Your family, your/their health (mental and physical,) should ALWAYS take priority over work, even when it feels like a career-ending decision. (It won’t be, I promise you. That was the first and last show I ever produced.) Ever since this experience, I do whatever I can to show up for my family, including flying cross-country for 24 hours out of a week-long family vacation. It was a painful lesson to learn, and I’m grateful for how it’s changed me, but I wouldn’t wish the experience on anyone.
Mark my words: there is no job that will pay you enough (financially, creatively,) to make up for endless regret.
Back when I was 22 yrs old, (which was yesterday, obviously,) I cast my very first ultra low budget feature. The producer was a friend of mine and the script was an interesting psychological thriller, being directed by the writer, (who was also 22 yrs old, and fresh out of film school.)
We held auditions for the lead roles and some wonderful and experienced actors came in to read for our little $100/day project. Many actors passed or decided to be offer only, but the few who did come in provided an invaluable experience to these budding filmmakers.
One such actress is someone with a long resume, who you would all know and recognize. She came in to read and was terrific; very respectful and gave a great read. I advocated like crazy for her, but my filmmakers were undecided and wanted to do callbacks. (Callbacks on $100/day projects are a hard sell to agents and actors, alike. If it’s a chemistry read, that’s one thing, but to have a callback with the same group of people who were there for the first read… if we can get anybody to come back in, it’s often begrudgingly.)
This actor came back without any sort of complaint. She walked into the room with positivity and calmness, and the director said to her, “thanks for coming back. We just want to try a few things.” She said, “Great!” and then crouched down a few feet in front of him while he explained what he wanted to do. She listened closely, asked a few clarifying questions and then stood up and performed his notes brilliantly. I’ve always remembered that behavior – she physically put herself in a position where she had to look up at him. It wasn’t that she was being obsequious or suggestive, she was giving him the feeling of being the one to listen to. (And there could have been a multitude of reasons she did this – get her blood pumping, for one – but whatever her reasons, this move gave the impression that she was actively ready to get his notes and implement his ideas.)
This woman had years of experience on all of us – her credits far outweighed all of ours (combined,) and without question, she had been on about a zillion more sets and through hundreds of more auditions than the rest of us. But for the five minutes that she was in that tiny room for a callback on an ultra low budget feature by a brand new director, she made all of us feel as though we were the most important filmmakers she’s ever worked with, and that she was there to be an instrument in our symphony. It instilled in all of us a newfound confidence that we employed through the rest of the project, (and for me, far beyond this particular feature.)
I have remembered that woman and that moment since then. I’ve tried to hire her (or at least audition her,) as often as I can. Any actor with that kind of kindness, openness and respect for others is someone ANY of us would be lucky to work with.
Several years ago, we were casting a pilot with well-known producers and a big name director. It was an ensemble cast, but there was a leading man role that you could assume would be offered out based on his description, (40s, male, former hero and “leader of the pack” type,) story line and the people involved with the show. We had our lists of namey-name actors, and we did try to offer it out to a few of them, but nothing was sticking and after seeing some guys read, our producers wanted it to come from someone who would audition. So, we read guys, and re-read them, tested a few with no success, and pulled self-tapes from England, Australia, Canada, the moon and beyond.
As we were getting down to the wire, we brought in an actor who had everything we were looking for: he had a leading man look, charisma, and was age-appropriate. He had been the lead of series previously, (not super recently, but nonetheless,) and he could certainly handle the material.
He shuffled back toward our audition room with his shoulders slightly slumped and his head down. As we were mic-ing him and providing some additional back story, he looked at us and said, “I’m not really sure why I’m here.” My boss and I looked at him, a little dumbfounded. “What do you mean?” she said. “Well, I can tell what you need in this character, and I’m sure I’m just not enough of a name for it, so I don’t really know what I’m doing here.” He didn’t say this with any sort of disdain. He stated it with the utter sadness of not being talented or well-known enough to even deserve a shot.
We spent the next five minutes trying to explain that he truly DID have a shot, for the reasons I’ve already mentioned and many more. We also told him that we wouldn’t just be reading him for the hell of it this late in the game. You could see that he took our emphatic reasoning as lip-service. He listened, acknowledged what we were saying but didn’t truly believe it. Unsurprisingly, he gave a vaguely depressing read with zero heart or energy. He left looking just as disappointed as he had when he walked in.
The moral of the story is this: you will sometimes go out for roles that you think, “I’m totally wrong for this,” or “they might offer this out,” or you may even go in for roles knowing that there is CURRENTLY an offer out on that role. In all of those scenarios, you STILL have a shot at that role, (Casting wouldn’t be reading you otherwise.) And if nothing else, give a great read and Casting will be excited to think of you for something else.
If you think there’s been a MISUNDERSTANDING – something about your headshot or resume made it seem like you were capable of something that you really aren’t, THEN it would behoove you to have your reps call Casting to ask if you should still read. If it doesn’t matter that much, we will tell you to still come in. If it’s utterly important to the character or world, we will appreciate your honesty and read you for something else down the line.
Otherwise, you should always walk into the audition room with the confidence that Casting has selected YOU, out of THOUSANDS to be there. If you’ve gotten that far, you’ve got a real shot at it. Check your emotional baggage at the door and focus on being there, in that moment, and having fun.