Ever wonder who decides on who stars in the next big Broadway show, television series, or film? There’s no easy answer to this, but I can let you in on some industry secrets. Directors and filmmakers are focused on a million other things during pre-production, from finances to scheduling, to the overall artistic vision of the piece. Finding the right people to tell their story is a huge responsibility with all of the talent out there. Creative teams rely on a special group of individuals with a unique and admirable skill set to find the right talent.
The end goal is to bring the creative team the best possible options for each character.
I'm telling you if you've ever met a casting director you know what I'm talking about. They have a memory far better than most and have an internal Rolodex of faces and names in their heads. They're intuitive and when they meet new people they read body language well, judging whether the actor is going to be nice to work with. Some casting directors are magicians at making even the most nervous actor feel comfortable. A casting director's job has multiple facets. The end goal is to bring the creative team the best possible options for each character. This starts with sifting through submissions and reaching out to agents and managers they know to bring in the right talent to audition. They then sit in on hours of auditions and callbacks to get down to the right talent for the project. Finally, hosting sessions workshopping the chosen actors to get them ready to audition in front of the creative team and directing them towards the strongest choices for the role. Casting directors are problem solvers. They are putting together a very expensive puzzle and their work involves long days of sifting through headshots and resumes, creating relationships with agents and managers, and having endless meetings with creative teams to make sure they get it just right.
Much like other industries, the entertainment industry has unions to provide benefits and protection to its employees. Actors have Actor’s Equity and SAG-AFTRA. If you aren't paid or there is misconduct at work, you can contact your union rep and they will handle it for you. Directors have Director’s Guild of America and other like unions, playwrights and screenwriters have their own respective unions. It seems that the only occupation within the entertainment industry that doesn't have a union is casting and it has not gone unnoticed by the casting community. While other workers on Broadway enjoy retirement and healthcare benefits, casting directors are left without. Casting Directors have recently formed a union that is unfortunately not yet being recognized by Broadway Producers. Casting directors and entertainment professionals across the country are now peacefully rallying and urging Broadway Producers to recognize their union and grant them union contracts that provide basic benefits. Recently, casting directors and their creative allies marched in New York City near Radio City Music Hall to raise awareness for their cause and to encourage producers to hear them.
Thankful you discovered the amazingly talented Leslie Odom Jr, Idina Menzel, and Laura Oshe's? A casting director first sent them in for that character that you’ll never forget and it’s time to thank them for standing by their side.
You can show your support for the Fairness for Casting campaign in a number of ways. Click here to download the I Support Casting Directors sign and print it. Snap a creative photo and share it on social media with the hashtag #fairnessforcasting and/or email your photo to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow this link to sign the petition for Fairness for Casting.