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If you’ve ever wondered if a job in casting would be a good fit for your particular personality and skill set, you’ll want to watch The Network’s So You Want to Be a Casting Director? posted by the American Theatre Wing. 

The webinar features an impressive panel of casting directors the likes of Bernard Telsey (Rent, Wicked, Hamilton, The Greatest Showman, Into the Woods), Destiny Lilly (award-winning film The Subject, All the Natalie Portmans) Erica Jenson from Calleri Jensen Davis (Burn This with Adam Driver and Keri Russell, Hedwig & the Angry Inch with Neil Patrick Harris and Lena Hall, The Elephant Man with Bradley Cooper) and Tara Rubin (School of Rock Broadway musical, Dear Evan Hansen, Les Misérables). These casting giants share how they got their starts and offer advice to the next generation. 

 

“There is no one way to become a casting director.”

Casting directors often start in the entertainment industry and then transition into casting. Some began in producing and directing while others started out in acting.

For example, Destiny Lilly from Destiny Lilly Casting & The Telsey Office initially started off directing plays. Shortly after, she realized just how difficult it was to earn a living wage in her line of work. Thankfully,  after being given the opportunity to cast some plays at the Ensemble Studio Theatre where she had a residency, Lilly realized casting was indeed her favorite part of being a director. 

“And I was like, ‘I love this. This is so much fun. I love all the different actors and bringing them in and hearing them do it differently!’” she recalls.

Tara Rubin, on the other hand, majored in acting at Boston University but quickly determined she was “not cut out to be an actor.” Therefore, she started working for a producer who soon went on to retire. But Rubin had established strong connections with the casting directors she’d been working alongside in past projects. So when given a chance to cast, she realized this was the true direction she wanted to pursue.

 

Falling in Love with Casting

Bernard Telsey dreamed of starting a theater company, so he studied to become a producer. However, he also made sure to take accounting courses while in college, as his mom had advised him to do. His mathematical skills were what got him into casting. When two Broadway casting directors needed to hire an accountant/bookkeeper for the office that’s what got him in the door. 

“I just started working for them and, like the rest, I fell in love with [casting] … It was like falling in love every day with another actor,” Telsey remembers. 

Like Tara Rubin, Erica Jenson started out as an actor. But when Jenson’s graduate school required her to do an internship at a theater company, she found the off-Broadway theater Playwrights Horizons. Through this fateful move, she met one of her business partners-to-be, casting director James Calleri. “I fell in love with casting as soon as I discovered what it was,” Jenson shares.

 

First Steps for Aspiring Casting Directors to Consider

For those who wish to become a casting director, Telsey says, “There isn’t a college, a specific program that’s [a casting] major. But more and more, as the casting profession has become more recognized and more nationally known, we—along with many other [Casting Society of America] members—are all doing seminars or eight-week classes at many of the universities. They’re all doing it from the North Carolina School of the Arts to Pace [University] to even NYU. They’re all doing like, ‘Six weeks with casting directors’ and starting to [help students] learn about the profession.” 

There’s also the semester-long immersion program created to give students rigorous training in the craft of casting at Tepper Program at Syracuse University

And then there’s CSA,” Telsey says.

The Casting Society of America (CSA) is a global organization that establishes a recognized standard of professionalism in the field of casting. CSA’s charitable and educational arm Casting Society Cares (CSC) created the Casting Assistant Training & Education Program to provide training for the next generation of casting professionals and to encourage diversity within the profession. 

 

Casting Director Requirements

No matter which pathway leads to a career in casting, there’s one common denominator for just about all casting directors. Applicants need to have an understanding of how the industry operates and the role casting directors play.

The profession is mostly freelance so sometimes jobs are scarce and sometimes casting professionals are swamped with work. Also, casting is not a 9 to 5 gig. Casting professionals go home when the work is finished and likely receive no overtime pay.

However, if you’re passionate about actors and following their careers, have great instincts about people, exhibit good communication skills and are comfortable with a fast-paced job, then casting may be just the right job for you.

The Network provides emerging and developing theater professionals with advanced education and networking opportunities, as well as tools for career advancement within a supportive creative community. 

If you’ve ever wondered if a job in casting would be a good fit for your particular personality and skill set, you’ll want to watch The Network’s So You Want to Be a Casting Director? posted by the American Theatre Wing. 

The webinar features an impressive panel of casting directors the likes of Bernard Telsey (Rent, Wicked, Hamilton, The Greatest Showman, Into the Woods), Destiny Lilly (award-winning film The Subject, All the Natalie Portmans) Erica Jenson from Calleri Jensen Davis (Burn This with Adam Driver and Keri Russell, Hedwig & the Angry Inch with Neil Patrick Harris and Lena Hall, The Elephant Man with Bradley Cooper) and Tara Rubin (School of Rock Broadway musical, Dear Evan Hansen, Les Misérables). These casting giants share how they got their starts and offer advice to the next generation. 

 

“There is no one way to become a casting director.”

Casting directors often start in the entertainment industry and then transition into casting. Some began in producing and directing while others started out in acting.

For example, Destiny Lilly from Destiny Lilly Casting & The Telsey Office initially started off directing plays. Shortly after, she realized just how difficult it was to earn a living wage in her line of work. Thankfully,  after being given the opportunity to cast some plays at the Ensemble Studio Theatre where she had a residency, Lilly realized casting was indeed her favorite part of being a director. 

“And I was like, ‘I love this. This is so much fun. I love all the different actors and bringing them in and hearing them do it differently!’” she recalls.

Tara Rubin, on the other hand, majored in acting at Boston University but quickly determined she was “not cut out to be an actor.” Therefore, she started working for a producer who soon went on to retire. But Rubin had established strong connections with the casting directors she’d been working alongside in past projects. So when given a chance to cast, she realized this was the true direction she wanted to pursue.

 

Falling in Love with Casting

Bernard Telsey dreamed of starting a theater company, so he studied to become a producer. However, he also made sure to take accounting courses while in college, as his mom had advised him to do. His mathematical skills were what got him into casting. When two Broadway casting directors needed to hire an accountant/bookkeeper for the office that’s what got him in the door. 

“I just started working for them and, like the rest, I fell in love with [casting] … It was like falling in love every day with another actor,” Telsey remembers. 

Like Tara Rubin, Erica Jenson started out as an actor. But when Jenson’s graduate school required her to do an internship at a theater company, she found the off-Broadway theater Playwrights Horizons. Through this fateful move, she met one of her business partners-to-be, casting director James Calleri. “I fell in love with casting as soon as I discovered what it was,” Jenson shares.

 

First Steps for Aspiring Casting Directors to Consider

For those who wish to become a casting director, Telsey says, “There isn’t a college, a specific program that’s [a casting] major. But more and more, as the casting profession has become more recognized and more nationally known, we—along with many other [Casting Society of America] members—are all doing seminars or eight-week classes at many of the universities. They’re all doing it from the North Carolina School of the Arts to Pace [University] to even NYU. They’re all doing like, ‘Six weeks with casting directors’ and starting to [help students] learn about the profession.” 

There’s also the semester-long immersion program created to give students rigorous training in the craft of casting at Tepper Program at Syracuse University

And then there’s CSA,” Telsey says.

The Casting Society of America (CSA) is a global organization that establishes a recognized standard of professionalism in the field of casting. CSA’s charitable and educational arm Casting Society Cares (CSC) created the Casting Assistant Training & Education Program to provide training for the next generation of casting professionals and to encourage diversity within the profession. 

 

Casting Director Requirements

No matter which pathway leads to a career in casting, there’s one common denominator for just about all casting directors. Applicants need to have an understanding of how the industry operates and the role casting directors play.

The profession is mostly freelance so sometimes jobs are scarce and sometimes casting professionals are swamped with work. Also, casting is not a 9 to 5 gig. Casting professionals go home when the work is finished and likely receive no overtime pay.

However, if you’re passionate about actors and following their careers, have great instincts about people, exhibit good communication skills and are comfortable with a fast-paced job, then casting may be just the right job for you.

The Network provides emerging and developing theater professionals with advanced education and networking opportunities, as well as tools for career advancement within a supportive creative community. 

 

 

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