How long does it take for some casting directors to decide if you’re in strong contention for a role? Apparently, they know pretty quickly. In a recent Yahoo! TV interview, Emmy-contending casting directors were asked how long it takes before they know an actor is the right match for a particular role. A common answer emphasized how often and quickly they’ve come to rely on their instincts.

Casting director John Papsidera of Hulu’s Casual answered, “Once in a while, somebody will surprise you with a choice, but most of the time I think you know pretty quick when they come in the room. I’m a big believer that you get a sense of somebody’s essence most of the time–it’s a natural, instinctive thing that I really try and rely on.”

Netflix’s Narcos casting director, Carla Hool said, “I usually know pretty fast. Usually with the first scene. It’s just a gut feeling–I’ve been doing this for a while, so you just know when someone’s right for the role.”

Lifetime’s UnREAL casting director Barbara Fiorentino addressed the collaborative process of casting, elaborating, “A lot of times when someone comes into the room in that first audition, you just know. That being said, especially when you’re casting a television pilot, a lot of people have to agree with that. Sometimes it’s more of a struggle to get everyone who makes those decisions on board with a particular actor.”

Susie Farri, the casting director for USA’s Mr. Robot stated, “Casting is pretty instinctual, so I feel like I have a sense pretty quickly if the person is wrong for the part; that’s always the easiest to discount. Knowing that they’re perfect for the part generally takes a bit longer. You certainly know if they’re in the realm. I would say after the first couple of scenes that show various emotions, I’m pretty much there.”

Similarly, casting director Fern Champion who found newbie Cameron Diaz after sifting through over 2,000 actresses for the 1994 comedy The Mask described her decision-making process this way: “It’s a gamble as a casting director. Your heart is in your mouth. You don’t go to casting director school; you just feel something and you say to yourself, ‘Please let my feelings be right.'”

Likewise, actress Jada Pinkett Smith, whose multifaceted career includes executive producing and directing, has had plenty of experience making casting decisions for her television, music video, and film projects. Pinkett explains her thoughts about the casting process by saying, “It’s funny because I don’t believe in auditioning. I actually hate that. I feel like I can look at an actor’s body of work, and I can tell, I know. I bring them into the room, and I can tell right away.”

Casting directors are busy making casting decisions on a daily basis and continually checking in with the talent pool to see how actors are gaining experience, expertise, and confidence. By building your body of work, being true to yourself, taking risks as you see fit, you’re doing important work. When you don’t land the role at hand, don’t be discouraged; your presence and persistence keep you on the casting directors’ radar for future roles. After all, casting in many ways is a numbers game. The more you audition, the more chances you have in being the best match for the part. Also, gaining experience with the auditioning experience can help you to develop confidence, flexibility, and the skill set particular to the art of auditioning. It all adds up to improving your chances of standing out among the competition. So audition all you can!

 

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