A Man in Pursuit of Rejection

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Rejection is something that all people experience in any number of ways throughout life. But if you’re an actor, it’s essentially a way of life. For example, repeatedly waiting in groups of 60 actors and knowing that perhaps just a couple of you may have the pleasure of landing the roles at hand can be an unnerving experience. But it’s clear that the more auditions an actor goes on increases his or her chances of booking jobs. So it’s essential for actors to develop a thick skin when it comes to rejection. Do you ever find that rejection is interfering with your ability to move things forward in your acting career? If so, you might find Jia Jiang’s personal struggles with rejection to be edifying.

Jia Jiang is not an actor. Rather, he was an aspiring entrepreneur who immigrated to the United States in hopes of becoming the next Bill Gates. And while he did find accomplishment in the corporate world, his real dream of being an entrepreneur evaded him. After all, right from the get go, he constantly heard “no” from potential customers or investors which left him riddled with self-doubt. In fact, he described the rejection as “crippling.” In his What I learned from 100 days of rejection Ted Talk, Jiang attributes a specific childhood experience in which he was publicly rejected by his peers with haunting him well into his adult years.

Determined to become “a better leader, a better person,” Jiang decided to take action. He discovered a game called Rejection Therapy invented by Canadian entrepreneur, Jason Comely. The game’s premise was to actively seek rejection for 30 days. Comely argued this consistent exposure to rejection would essentially desensitize any participant to the pain associated with being brushed off. Inspired by this idea, Jiang decided to go a step further: He determined he would seek rejection for 100 days, and document his experiences on a video blog.

Whether or not you have struggles with rejection, viewing Jiang’s video entries makes for fun watching. They include “Borrow $100 from a Stranger,” “Request a ‘Burger Refill,'” “Play Soccer in Someone’s Backyard,” “Ask for Olympic Symbol Ring Doughnuts,” and the list goes on.

In time, Jiang learned to steel himself against rejection, and develop self-confidence which holds strong even when he experiences setbacks. And now he dares us all to live more boldly and boost our bravery.

In turn, Jiang has made a career for himself based on his journey with rejection. He is the owner of RejectionTherapy.com, a website full of inspiration, information, and products to support people who strive to overcome their fear of rejection. He is the CEO of Wuju Learning that gives instruction to individuals and organizations to become more fearless in their pursuits. And he authored a bestselling book entitled Rejection Proof: How I Beat Fear and Became Invincible Through 100 Days of Rejection.

Jiang has certainly triumphed over his monumental fears! Do you think his tactics would be effective in dealing with audition room nerves? Who wants to try?

Colin Farrell and Hugh Grant on the Entertainment Industry

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Is entertaining large audiences or winning awards in little-known films more important for an actor?

“Do you think acting is a kind of goal in itself, and almost a quasi-religious experience, and it’s like therapy and you’re trying to please your fellow actors? Or do you think it’s just a tool for entertaining people?” Hugh Grant recently posed this question to Colin Farrell. The two actors spoke at length during a one-on-one interview for Variety’s Actors on Actors and towards the end, Grant asked this “penetrating question.”

Farrell responded, “I think all of the above. I think it can be quite often a different thing for the actor than it is for the audience. But I think if there’s an experiential symbiosis between what the actor is experiencing in their own lives and internally, and what the audience is experiencing in purveying the work that the actor presents, I think that’s a state of grace.”

Grant, who is famous for his roles in romantic comedies, box-office hits like Notting Hill, and is regarded as an international heartthrob, agreed with Farrell’s assessment. But, he then presented this line of questioning in more practical terms; that is, delving into how an actor is likely to make decisions throughout his or her career. Grant asked: “If you had two scripts on your desk, and one was almost certain to be a big smash hit because people would really be entertained by it. But the part is kind of 8 out of 10. Then you have one where you know no one’s going to see this outside the San Sebastian Film Festival, but the part is 10 out of 10. Which do you choose?”

Irish actor, Colin Farrell’s career reflects a wide range of roles. He portrays the powerful magician Percival Graves in the box-office smash Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. But just before that, he starred in the science-fiction drama The Lobster, which garnered a small overall audience but which has received several nominations and awards.

So when considering which kind of scripts he gravitates to, Farrell revealed that although he has a “really healthy appreciation for the nature of commerce of the film business,” and he loves doing action films, he tends to favor the the “smaller, more intimate stuff.” He likes roles in lower-budget films, “because the characters don’t have to find such a big audience, the characters have a greater sense of specificity to them and maybe a greater internal struggle that can find avenues of emotion or intellectual exploration that the hundred million, hundred-fifty million films don’t afford.”

On the other hand, Hugh Grant expressed concern that actors can take things too seriously. He said, “I sometimes think we are in slight danger of disappearing up our own a**es–actors–and really we should be there to entertain people. We shouldn’t forget that. It’s an entertainment business.”

How about you? When you dream of your optimal career as an actor, which category of scripts and roles do you yearn for more? How important is the quality of the work in comparison the the size of the audience a project garners?

The Healing Power of Acting

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Sometimes the process of acting goes beyond being more than an exploration, passion, or career goal. And it, in fact, has the power to transform its participants’ lives in a healing manner.

Take Michael Shannon, for example. Shannon is known for his versatility on screen in films like Revolutionary Road which earned him an Oscar nomination, Take Shelter, 99 Homes for which he received a Golden Globe nomination, and Nocturnal Animals. In this Off Camera interview, Shannon describes his difficult childhood. His parents divorced early on, and he describes his high school years as “a disaster”–and he eventually dropped out of school.

Painting a picture of his high school social difficulties, he says, “I was in a different city with a bunch of kids I didn’t know at a very large school. So my freshman and sophomore year I couldn’t make friends to save my life.” On top of it, his father with whom he was living at the time, was going through his own hard times, which ultimately lead Michael Shannon to move. In turn, he immersed himself in community theater.

Indeed, the more he performed, the more he realized acting “might be more than just something I’m doing to kill time and ease the pain.” Instead, the theater allowed him to change how he and others perceived him. Shannon revealed:

“I guess I had a lot of inappropriate behavior, or I didn’t really fit into like normal societal situations. I struggled with those, but the great thing about the acting is that I could go on stage and act insane, where in real life if I acted that way, I’d get chastised and punished or told to shut up. But when you do that on stage, people applaud  and say, ‘Wow, you’re a genius.’ So it was a pretty easy bridge to cross.”

Sally Field is another example of an actor who found acting to be a healing force. In an emotional interview for Variety’s Actors on Actors, Field opened up about a deep depression she experienced in her late teen years. She told Hailee Steinfeld, “It took me a long time to get to anybody to really learn a craft, and that wasn’t until I was in my second television series, and unfortunately it was something called ‘The Flying Nun.’ I was suffering so badly, I was so depressed and I was 19 and I didn’t want to be playing something called the Flying Nun. I did not want to be dressed as a nun all day long.”

But fortunately she found a support that helped her emerge from the depression. For Field, that support was The Actor’s Studio. Field admitted:

“[The Actor’s Studio] really began to form who I was not only as an actor, but helped me be who I became as a person. Because it gave me tools…so that I never lose my own voice…acting tools, that I can go into myself and if I can call on those pieces of myself as an actor, then I can call on them as a human, and I couldn’t do that before.”

To hear Field’s entire comments on the topic, you can view the interview on Variety’s Actors on Actors which debuts on PBS SoCal on January 3rd.

Do you attribute acting with being a healing force in your life as well? Please share.

Jennifer Aniston Stands Up to Years of Tabloid Abuse

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It’s hard to stand in a market line and stop yourself from reading startling headlines like “FBI Captures Bat Child!” and “Dolphin Grows Human Arms!” And then in the midst of it all are the hysterical titles about the tabloid-favorite Jennifer Aniston. For two decades, publications have been grabbing our collective attention with headlines like: “Angelina Jolie Beats Jennifer Aniston Down the Aisle,” “I Can’t Stop Loving Brad,” “How Angelina Tortures Jen,” “Jennifer Aniston Strapped For Cash,” “Jen Gets Revenge,” “Jen Jilted by Her Fiance,” “Jen Confronts Fiance’s Secret Girlfriend,” “My Life Without Justin,” “Yes, I’m Pregnant–with Twins!” “Pregnant and Alone,” “Jen’s Baby Dream Shattered”–and on and on it goes.

Well, a “fed up” Aniston insists this steady stream of false reports is “getting old.” So, she penned an essay in The Huffington Post writing, “I don’t like to give energy to the business of lies, but I wanted to participate in a larger conversation that has already begun and needs to continue.” In turn, she calls out the multitude of authors who claim to write “under the guise of ‘journalism,’ the ‘First Amendment,’ and ‘celebrity news.'”

“For the record” she states that rumors of her being pregnant are untrue, and she’s had enough of all the speculation about her relationships as well as all the “sports-like scrutiny and body shaming” she’s endured. Also, the Friends star hopes to raise readers’ awareness of the negative ways such stories can shape our ideas about ourselves. She insists:

“We are complete with or without a mate, with or without a child. We get to decide for ourselves what is beautiful when it comes to our bodies. That decision is ours and ours alone. Let’s make that decision ourselves and for the young women in this world who look to us as examples. Let’s make that decision consciously, outside of the tabloid noise. We don’t need to be married or mothers to be complete. We get to determine our own ‘happily ever after’ for ourselves.”

More recently, the Office Christmas Party actress shared in a Marie Claire interview the reason why she authored the op-ed. She answered, “My marital status has been shamed; my divorce status was shamed; my lack of a mate had been shamed; my nipples have been shamed.”  With all the quality relationships she’s enjoyed over the years, the popular roles she’s performed, the awards she’s won, all the most-beautiful lists she’s graced, and being a top-earning actress for 15 years, she continuously sees a pathetic portrait of herself being painted in the press. She said, “It’s like, ‘Why are we only looking at women through this particular lens of picking us apart? Why are we listening to it?’ I just thought: I have worked too hard in this life and this career to be whittled down to a sad, childless human.”

So when asked to come up with her own celebrity headline, Aniston replied,“How’s this? ‘When I’m pregnant and married, I will let you know,” and adding, “And by the way, stop stealing my thunder! Let me have the fun of telling that story.”

 

 

‘America’s Mom’ Florence Henderson Passes On

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Florence Henderson, famous for playing Carol Brady on The Brady Bunch, died of heart failure on Thanksgiving night at the age of 82. In the 1970’s sitcom, Florence as Mrs. Brady would warmly give wise and sensible advice to her TV children, thus earning her the title of “America’s Mom.” The Brady Bunch played for five seasons, and continued for decades with reruns in America as well as 122 countries around the globe. Henderson’s portrayal of a widow with three daughters who marries a widower with three sons, represented the first blended family in television history. The Brady husband and wife also represented the first couple to sleep in the same bed before TV audiences.

Henderson was born on Valentine’s Day, the youngest of ten children, in Indiana. But unlike her iconic role as Carol Brady, her own mother left the family when Florence was just ten years old. Indeed, Florence grew up in poverty with her father working as a tobacco sharecropper. During an interview on CNN, Henderson once revealed that to play Mrs. Brady, she created the kind of mother she wished she’d had.

Henderson started acting at the age of 17, and debuted on Broadway the following year. She went on to perform in Broadway hits like Fanny and The Girl Who Came to Supper before landing the role of NBC’s first Today girl in 1959 broadcasting the weather, fashion topics, and the lighter aspects of the news. In 1962, Henderson was the first woman to guesthost The Tonight Show before Johnny Carson took the lead.

Just last year, Matt Lauer interviewed Henderson who revealed that she felt younger than she did at the age of 30. The star beamed as she said, “I try to get up every day and say, ‘Wow, it’s a great day, and I’m alive. I have four healthy children, five healthy grandchildren, I have granddogs. I have friends. I am so blessed to be able to still do what I love–I work all the time, and I’m just grateful!”

Upon hearing the sad news of Henderson’s passing, Maureen McCormick who played the role of Marcia Brady tweeted, “Florence Henderson was a dear friend for so very many years & in my <3 forever. Love & hugs to her family. I’ll miss u dearly.”

“Weird Al” Yankovic, who worked with Henderson on the music video Amish Paradise, tweeted, “So terribly sad to hear of the passing of the great Florence Henderson. It was a true honor to have known and worked with her.”

In fact, Florence Henderson’s impressive resume was quite long and varied. Besides starring in Broadway hits and being ranked among the top one hundred Greatest TV Icons according to Entertainment Weekly, Henderson has worked as a talk show host, a cooking show host, she authored the book Life Is Not a Stage: From Broadway Baby to a Lovely Lady and Beyond, and worked as a certified hypnotherapist. Additionally, Henderson was a commercial spokeswoman for brands like Oldsmobile, Wesson oil, and Polident. And at the age of 76, she even competed on Dancing with the Stars!

Her later film works include The Grandmothers Murder Club  about “Four older women who kill people–but they deserve it!” Henderson said. And she appeared in the parody Fifty Shades of Black with Marlon Wayans.

The advice she often gave to kids was: “Keep a cool head and keep a warm heart. And always remember those who helped you on the way up.”

Rest in peace, Florence Henderson.

Bryan Cranston to Aspiring Actors: “You’ve got to take a chance.”

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Bryan Cranston recently wrote an intimate, funny memoir entitled A Life in Parts. In turn, he’s been touring, sharing personal stories, and promoting the necessity and power of hard work. In this clip, Cranston gives inspiring advice to aspiring actors at a Guardian event in London.

The four-time Emmy Award-winning star tells actors that there are no shortcuts in the pursuit of landing roles. Rather, he insists, “It’s all about work. And that’s why I say if you don’t love it, it’s going to be drudgery to you. It’s going to be painful to you.”

As a teenager, Cranston initially wanted to pursue a career in law enforcement, and even earned an associate degree in police science. But during an elongated cross-country motorcycle trip, he came to a realization one day while stranded at a rest area in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Cranston says, “I realized how much I needed to focus on something that I really loved and hopefully would become good at, as opposed to doing something that I was good at–police work–but I didn’t love. So that was when I made that decision, at 22, to become an actor.”

When he was 25, he found work as a soap opera regular on ABC’s Loving which gave him a great sense of pride and belonging. “It really broke down a barrier for me. At first, I always had to supplement my acting with other odd jobs,” he recalls. But when he was fired from the show two years later, he took opportunities to act all he could whether it be guest star roles on TV or small parts in movies.

When he was auditioning, Cranston says he would “never stop working” because he knew “there’s always going to be people who are more talented than me.” So he committed to the task of outworking the competition. “That’s the one thing you can control,” he insists. And he learned to take risks, and in turn, now urges other actors to take chances as well, saying:

“So I would imagine that after the casting director would see about 30 to 40 guys for the same role, if it’s a comedy, whatever you’re reading is not funny anymore to them….you just have to get that sense that it’s okay. If it’s a drama, there’s not going to be any [gasp] moment from them. They’ve seen it. You’re the thirty-fifth guy coming in, reading the same material. How do you get them to pay attention to you? You can’t just do what is expected. If you just do what’s expected, that’s what everyone’s going to do. You’ve got to take a chance….It’s better to take a chance and go way out there and have the person go, ‘Oh my god! That was bizarre and interesting, it’s not what we’re looking for.’ That’s okay. But you took the chance. It’s better to be that guy than audition person number 27 who I don’t remember at all. At least you’ll be memorable.”

It would be about fifteen years after leaving the soap opera that he landed a “gift” of a role as the goofy father Hal in Malcolm in the Middle–and later, of course, the role of the science-instructor-turned-meth cook Walter White from the wildly popular Breaking Bad. Now Cranston is celebrated for his versatile work in film, on Broadway, and on television. Certainly, the hard work and risks he’s taken along the way have made himself memorable!

 

Amy Adams Doubted That She Had “It”

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“During my 20s and early 30s, when I wasn’t really working, I realized, OK, I’ll just focus on my work, I don’t have a Thing.” –Amy Adams

Arrival and Nocturnal Animals actress Amy Adams spoke with The Guardian recently about how focussing on her work has served her well through the course of her career.

Adams prefers to keep her private life out of the public view as much as possible, and she believes this separation of work and home is helpful for her acting. “I think the more people are concerned with me, the less they can invest in my characters,” she said.

Adams continued, “My husband and I are very quiet people. Whereas some people–Jennifer Lawrence, let’s say–she just has the kind of energy where she walks into a room and everybody notices. I don’t think that it’s a desire for attention, that’s just the nature of her being. I can disappear really, really quickly in a room.”

Although she’s now content with this aspect of her personality, she used to wonder if this quality amounted to a deficit in the world of acting. But as her career evolved, the now 42-year-old A-lister has come to view her ability to “disappear” as an asset. “Before I almost felt like it was a deficit, because I thought to be an actress you had to make people pay attention to you, and that’s just not my energy. It took a long time to be okay with that because you would see people receive a lot of opportunities based on something intangible, and it’s frustrating. But during my 20s and early 30s, when I wasn’t really working, I realized, okay, I’ll just focus on my work, I don’t have a Thing.”

While Adams did receive attention for her role in Catch Me If You Can as Leonardo DiCaprio’s love interest, the part proved to not really launch her career considering she didn’t work for a year afterwards. She’d get close to landing roles, only to be disappointed when they’d fall through. As a result, she thought maybe she didn’t have “it.” She wondered if she should quit pursuing acting on screen. “I thought maybe I should move to New York, maybe I should do something else…like maybe this just wasn’t a good fit,” she once shared. But she soon was offered a part in the low-budget independent film Junebug. She was cast as a young, pregnant wife named Ashley. And as fate would have it, playing Ashley earned her an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress. Adams would go on to receive more Oscar nominations for future roles in Doubt, The Fighter, The Master, and American Hustle. Indeed, she is celebrated for her ability to pull off a broad range of roles including comedies, dramas, and musicals.

Adams attributes becoming a mother with feeling “more raw and more open to empathy, and that helps.” But moreover, she insists that motherhood has helped how she processes her work. “I used to have a dysfunctional relationship with my work, where I was bringing home all my insecurities and expectations, and if I felt a director didn’t love what I did, it would just plague me. That had to change,” she admits.

Specifically, she refers to her time on the set of David O. Russell’s American Hustle. While playing the part of Sydney–a role for which she would go on to receive a Golden Globe, she explains, “[Russell] didn’t necessarily make me cry; I cried. The experience of playing that character struck me in a strange place, and that’s heightened by David’s energy, yeah. So I couldn’t bring that home….I remember looking at my husband and saying, ‘If I can’t figure this out, I can’t work any more, I’ll have to do something else. I don’t want to be that person, not for my daughter.’ So I figured it out….It’s not that I don’t find my work important. It’s just that I now know, at the end of the day, I’ll be back home reading stories to my daughter.”

It’s all but impossible to deconstruct and define the curious blend of talent, individuality, charisma, and luck that makes up the elusive “It” factor. But when Amy Adams doubted she had “It,” she simply dedicated herself to the work at hand: the craft of acting. She’s also proved to be flexible over the years, adapting in the ways that pertained to her particular personality and journey. And look at all she’s been able to accomplish!

Benedict Cumberbatch on Character Development

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“Yes, I do build up a backstory in my head even if it’s just for me.” –-Benedict Cumberbatch

Marvel’s Doctor Strange actor Benedict Cumberbatch’s resume includes a long, impressive list of awards and nominations for his film, television and theater work. In part, he can boast appearing in four films that were nominated for the Best Picture Oscar: Atonement, War Horse, The Imitation Game, and 12 Years a Slave–the last of which won the category. On a recent webchat on The Guardian, Cumberbatch answered fans’ questions about a variety of topics. After sharing what his favorite flavor of coffee is, and which books he’s currently reading, the Sherlock star was asked if he takes the time and effort to create a backstory for his characters. Cumberbatch responded with an admittedly “verbose” answer. But here is his reply regarding processes to build up backstories and specific skills for his prolific characters.

“Yes, I do build up a backstory in my head even if it’s just for me,” he said. “As far as preparation goes, it’s important to understand the who, what, where, why of the character before you meet him.” Cumberbatch continued:

“That helps the character employ those tactics for whatever action they’re trying to perform, which can necessitate a limit of choice as well as a discovery of new things to be learned as an actor to portray the character with. For example, a character I played in a Martin Crimp play called ‘The City’ at the Royal Court [theater], was describing an incident where he was humiliated in his new job to his wife, and I began to [characterize] the voices in his story when Katie Mitchell [director] pointed out that it was unlikely he would have the confidence to do that as opposed to me, because I could. Those differentiations are vital, but often (and this really ain’t no humblebrag) I’m chasing the tailcoats of my character’s abilities, whether it’s their intelligence or professional excellence, or even their ability to sing/play piano/ride a horse/paint some of the great works of modern art! All these things require a heavy tutoring in new skill sets, one of the many privileges of our job, i.e., getting to learn new stuff and continuing with a form of further education, I suppose. And the results, while varied, sometimes work, but it’s all smoke and mirrors, and I often feel like a horrible fraudster. I think the worst is when I played violin as Sherlock–a skill that takes years of childhood and adolescent practice time….But just to finish, vocal and physical differences, prep of any sort, work on a backstory, learning a skill, all has to be given time and when it isn’t you run into [generalizing], and I’m fully aware I’ve done that on occasion, and so aim to create enough space around my work so there is enough space between roles and I have enough time to [honor] the tasks each present me with.”

When it came to developing Doctor Stephen Strange, the English actor delved deeply into the character using the source material as well as relying on president of  Marvel Studios and “superfan” Kevin Feige and the film’s director Scott Derrickson’s encyclopedic knowledge of the character and story. He also referred back to his experiences as a teenager when he taught English in a Tibetan monastery which got him in touch with “the power of the mind to change your reality.”

Here is a clip of Cumberbatch and Derrickson as well as actor Mads Mikkelsen talking about how they prepared to capture the mystical world of Doctor Strange.

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7 Ways TV Commercials Can Help Build Your Television and Film Career

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  1. TV Commercials are the fastest way to get on national television, make great residual income and begin building a recognizable brand in the TV/Film casting community.
  1. The Actors Search! When you do a National Commercial, due to the hundreds of times it runs on television, the exposure can lead to a TV/Film Casting Director that is casting a project calling you in to audition because you fit the type they are looking for in one of the roles they are casting.
  1. Commercial Casting Directors that also cast films. Some Commercial Casting Directors also cast Independent and major Films. When you work well with commercial casting offices you can also get called in to audition for Films.
  1. Commercial Directors that also direct television shows. The Russo Brothers, Ridley Scott, Joe Pytka etc…are Television and Film Directors that also direct TV Commercials. When you work well on-set on a TV Commercial, you will be remembered and favored in casting offices, by Commercial Directors that also direct TV and Film.
  1. Commercials to put on your Theatrical Demo Reel! The “Slice of Life” TV commercial (the 30 second scene in a sitcom type of commercials) can be put on your Theatrical Demo Reel. Some Theatrical Agents even request it as it can help the Agent pitch you for certain TV/Film roles, especially when you don’t have a reel.
  1. On-Camera Audition Skill Building. Some of your TV/Film auditions will be recorded in the Casting Directors office and sent to the Director. Most Scene Study and Improv classes are not on-camera so the actor does not develop the skills needed to audition well at TV/Film castings when being recorded on-camera. All work in our 4 Week Course is done on-camera. Helping the actor build great audition technique skills that are necessary and helpful in TV/Film Casting Offices.
  1. The fastest way to become SAG/AFTRA and make all or most of the money back quickly to regain the dues you had to spend to join the Union (Guild). Moreover, most major TV/Film Casting Directors will not audition you for television shows and films if you are not SAG/AFTRA. Your major TV/Film career trajectory will accelerate when you become SAG/AFTRA. Commercials can help you get there faster!

mikepointer

Booking Coach Mike Pointer of Hey, I Saw Your Commercial! Has helped thousands of actors over the last 17 years book hundreds of national television commercials as well as television and film work. Coach Mike, a successful commercial actor for over 28 years himself, teaches outstanding, cutting edge strategies that has helped hundreds of actors quit their day jobs, and build a successful career in TV commercials. Coach Mike’s powerful on-camera techniques and outstanding business strategies has set a new standard and cutting edge approach in the on-camera commercial training industry. These classes are highly recommended by top commercial agencies as well as top Managers, and Casting Directors that also teach classes!

Casting Director David Rubin Reveals What He Looks for in Talent

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In this PBS interview, Casting Director and Academy Governor David Rubin shares insights into how he makes casting decisions. Rubin’s casting resume includes a long impressive list of box office hits including Gravity, Men in Black, Hairspray, and The English Patient. He’s also received an Emmy for casting HBO’s Game Change.

According to Rubin, “The most important thing for an actor to bring to the table is themselves, their own idiosyncrasy. And so many actors get preoccupied with what they thing the filmmaker is looking for. And frankly, what we’re looking for is them.”

He has expressed similar ideas about this topic last year when interviewed by the Academy. When asked the number one thing that he looks for as a casting director, he responded: “I look for compelling and, ideally, unexpected ways of portraying each character. Our choice of each actor must help tell the film’s story in a particular way and hopefully gives it a depth and a dynamic that might even go beyond what the screenwriter and other filmmakers had originally envisioned. In order to do that, I’m looking for actors who are skilled in their craft and who bring an individuality that makes them distinct from so many others.”

Rubin also addressed what actors sometimes do that stop him from considering them for roles. He said: “The most important thing for an actor to do in a casting situation is to prepare well and make clear choices for your character in the audition scene. We realize you often don’t have access to a complete script and are making guesses about the character, based on little information, but making firm choices and playing with conviction is the key. So what really turns me off is the lack of distinct choice. Even if an actor is wrong for that role, if they’re true to their instincts and are committed to their acting choices, I’ll remember them and happily have them in for a future film!”

In his quest to deliberately open up roles to actors among a diverse talent pool, Rubin has a practice of ignoring screenwriters’ character descriptions early on. “It’s not that I don’t respect the intentions of a screenwriter. But writers describe characters very specifically, NOT for the filmmakers, but really for studio executive and financiers, so they’ll read the script and see a movie in their heads which they’ll hopefully want to finance and distribute. But once a movie is in pre-production and we’re contemplating casting options, I think it’s best to forget about specifics like age, race and gender and just think about who are the actors who would be believable in a role and help drive the story forward in interesting ways.” Broadening the casting options becomes an important part of the conversation with filmmakers as they explore various ways to bring life to each of the characters in any given project.

And actors should keep in mind that when they believe they’ve  botched an audition, don’t worry about it. Any “mistake” just might be what most intrigues casting directors like Rubin. “Often those are the most illuminating auditions to me–those kind of organic moments where an actor connects with a character even though they may not even realize that they’re doing it,” he says.