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Peeking behind the casting curtain.

You know when people think their dog is the cutest one in the dog park and it’s SO obvious that they are completely delusional about what their dog actually looks like?

Well, it got me thinking. Who ARE you? Where are you in the grand scheme?

The Wannabes. The Unknowns. The Working Actors. The Names.

All of the people in the groups above can find work. Just keep in mind, you may find yourself as an unknown auditioning against a working actor, so there will be other reasons besides your talent for you not getting this job.

…there’s an implicit hierarchy that governs who’s eligible for which roles, indicating who’s big enough to play the hero or who’s too big to play the mother or best friend. From the cop on the corner to the leading man, every role is evaluated according to this hierarchy, so that you’ve got actors of the appropriate “size” in every part.

The above reference is from the book A STAR IS FOUND by Casting Directors: Janet Hirshenson and Jane Jenkins. The book is written from the CD’s point of view. After reading it, I geeked-out and sent these women a fan email, yes, I did. I recommend it to actors because it gives you a peek behind the curtain of what the casting process involves (the part that doesn’t involve you).

Hmm, so, there’s a hierarchy… good to know, right? I hope this information frees you up to do just do YOUR part of the job and not think about “what they are looking for” or comparing yourself to the other actors in the waiting room - or even against the person who ended up with the job.

You have no idea why you get hired for a job or miss out on one.

- “I see, they wanted brunette, I’m a blonde, that’s why I didn’t get it.” (no, it’s not.)

- “Oh, that’s weird, they asked for 40+ but they hired a 30 year old? Why did they even call me in?” (who knows? let it go.)

You will drive yourself nuts with that type of self-talk.

Besides, you really just want the CD to call you back time after time, (Audition for Your Career, Not the Job: Mastering the On-camera Audition, by Tim Phillips) so regardless of where you fit in to their hierarchy, put your best foot forward and all that…

Your audition is your own little one-person show. You are putting on a show, and all the people in the room have bought tickets and are there to watch your show. Prep, rehearse, perform and ENJOY it. ("Sing out Louise!")

Helpful Hint: Plan to do something after the audition. Schedule lunch with friends, or another audition or a class to prepare for. Do anything that gets you immediately on to the next thing. Get out of your own way.


In smaller markets, (for larger movies) many of the roles auditioned are for one-line or a few lines in a scene. Two things about that.

1. The one line is obviously important, or they would make that to a non-speaking role and pay you as a background actor and save themselves a bunch of money.


2. A lot of thought goes into every role. (Even the aforementioned background actor).

This is from the book - They are talking about auditioning for a role that has one line and the one line isn’t even directed to the lead character. The scene with the lead character is silent!

Obviously, whomever we cast as Ashley has to read as pretty, sexy, self-confident, and a little bit mean. She also has to appear to be a teenager, even if in real life she’s twenty-seven. Since she’s rejecting the Hero, she probably could be taller than he is; heroines, of course, must be shorter or should at least match the hero’s height. Ideally, the evil Ashley will be a strong physical contrast to the Nice Girl who eventually accepts Our Hero - so Ashley and the Nice Girl should be contrasting looks. For starters, they probably should’t both be blondes, brunettes, or redheads. Since the Nice Girl is likely the bigger part, may be even the heroine, Ashley’s hair color will be cast around hers (or we might ask her to dye her hair). Likewise, if the Nice Girl is an athletic type, Ashley should be delicate; if the Nice Girl is a wispy little thing, Ashley might seem more sturdy, and so on…

And it goes on in further detail. Reminder: one line, not even directed to the lead actor!

omg. The whole thing is nuts! And you're doing it by choice and on purpose...! Anyway, who are you? Where are you? Go get the book. There's tons of stuff in it.

Anne Mulhall, Casting, Coaching, Motivating

The discerning taste of royalty with the delivery of a standup comic.


This (and future posts) is written the way I speak. The punctuation and spelling will be whatever I want. Just thought I should mention that - so I don't receive cut-and-pasted versions of this post with "helpful" corrections. It's good info...just get past the grammar and punc.

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