On Casting Frontier’s 21st episode of The Curve, Burgandi and Govind interview the award-winning talent agent Carol Lynn Sher from the bicoastal agency CESD. Sher works with emerging young talent, helping them to book their first jobs in the entertainment industry whether it be for print, commercials, voice-over, television, or film. One notable young actress that Sher has worked with for years is 10-year-old Julia Butters. Butters can be seen acting alongside Leonardo DiCaprio in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.

“The younger you start, the better because there’s always a need for that next batch,” Sher explains. Indeed, the consistent need for fresh faces and promising young actors ready to fill types like the little brother, the school athlete, the class clown, the popular girl, or the bookworm keep her busy. Sher looks for children and teens who demonstrate a command of their particular talent as well as individuals who’ve had some experience performing. 

Always on the lookout, Sher routinely visits acting schools as well as venues like The Groundlings, Second City, and Upright Citizens Brigade Theater (UCB). “Our agency, along with our New York agents, we go to every graduating class of the acting schools that come through. So we are out there interested in the next generation and open to talk to them,” Sher reveals. In fact, this open access extends to any promising young talent. “People submit [email protected] New York office or LA. It’s pretty easy,” she says.

When submitting children to her agency, Sher advises parents to provide “great photos [and] a sweet written note.” They can find listings for open calls at CESD through Instagram for New York and Los Angeles. However, in Los Angeles, those who are interested need to contact [email protected] to receive an invitation to the casting calls.

Self-Tapes and Personality Videos

What used to take several days in the casting process, can now be accomplished in as little as a few hours thanks to modern technologies. For this reason, Sher informs talent that they need to keep pace and become comfortable knocking out self-tapes. “Now gathering the self-tapes or viewing what’s already posted precedes the actor into the room. So everyone has to crank these things out within hours or overnight,” she insists.

In addition to the last-minute self-tapes, talent must be ready to provide a personality video that will be used as the child’s audition in most instances. Because the video is seen so often, it’s important that it be shot with quality sound and lighting. “Then, when you have to do the [self-tape] in the car because it’s due in an hour, the lighting won’t be as good, but they’ll still understand because they can see the difference,” Sher explains. The videos must showcase the child’s unique personality, smile, favorite activities, as well as present the child in close-up and full-body shots. “That should just be on hand. Every actor should just have that,” she says. Talent also need to provide their Instagram handle.

Sher advises talent to adapt to the new digital requirements in the industry, saying: “Embrace it, get trained on it, get your materials up. It used to be that people would be going to your website to look at those things. They’re either looking at your Instagram now, or they’re having it sent from the agent. So they’re not even doing that step; they want it now.”

“The more you can do, the more you’re going to work,” she concludes.

Follow Sher on Twitter and visit CESD Youth Spotlight on Instagram.

Casting Frontier’s YouTube series The Curve is hosted by Burgandi Phoenix and Govind Kumar. Stay ahead of the curve by learning more valuable tips and stories from an assortment of industry insiders each week.