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The Casting Process

Many new actors have misconceptions about how the casting process works. To alleviate some of this confusion, here is a hypothetical example of how a guest-starring role on an imaginary daytime drama may be cast.

The producers of the soap opera "Secret Lovers" have just gotten the script for one of next month's episodes. In this particular episode is a new character named "Lisa", a scheming young woman who will seduce the series star.

The producers call the Casting Director that they have used for years and describe the character of Lisa. The CD already has in mind a few actors she has seen before for the role, but submits a description to Breakdown Services, a company that serves as a link between CDs and agents.

The next morning, every agent reads the "Breakdowns", a publication that lists every role that is currently being cast. The agent goes through his files, searching for clients who would be right for "Lisa". He selects several photos and sends them to the Casting Director.

The Casting Director receives envelopes from all these agents and must go through hundreds of photos looking for the right "Lisa". Even if a photo looks great, the CD will still turn it over to look at the resume on the back and see what other work the actor has done. Finally, she narrows it down to about thirty attractive female actors and calls their agents to arrange an audition.

The agent calls his client and tells her about the audition. He may either send her the "sides" (a sample script to be read at the audition) or have her come to his office to pick them up.

The actor goes to the audition (probably quite nervous) dressed as she thinks "Lisa" would dress. She has prepared for the audition scene for several hours, getting the character just right. Now all she has to do is sit quietly with several other "Lisa" wannabes until it's her turn to audition. She doesn't waste time gossiping with the other actors, but instead uses the time to go over the lines and get into character.

The actor is called into the audition room and sits across a table from the Casting Director and her assistant. The actor has read for this CD before, so they talk and catch up for a moment before beginning the scene. Then the Casting Director's assistant does the scene with the actor, reading the other character's lines.

The actor performs brilliantly, bringing a touch of vulnerability to Lisa's scheming nature. The Casting Director watches her performance closely, noticing everything. Most of the actors she has see so far today were rather bland and predictable, so she's quite pleased with the performance.

The Casting Process Part II >>

By by Joshua Siegel - Courtesy of