I like reading blogs about the industry.  I wish I had time to read them all.  A blog that comes up on occasion, not written by a casting director, tries to solve the big mystery of “What Is A Casting Director Looking For?”  The question always revolves in and around the performance.  So since I’m a casting director, I thought it would be a great idea for me to answer that question

I think my answer might disappoint you.   I don’t believe anyone can answer that question. Why?  Because for both theatrical and commercial, the casting director is looking for you to bring us a performance with creative choices that makes the character come alive. I can’t spell out what creative choices are

Having said that, I can answer the question in a different way and I can give you a list of what casting directors are looking for

Good actors.  Casting directors are only as good as the actors they bring in to audition.  Bring creative choices to your performance that make the character come alive.

Do not give a neutral performance. Any good actor knows that and would never deliver a neutral performance. Working out in acting classes will bring you discoveries every week that you can deliver with confidence.

Reliability.  This business is built on trust. We need actors that show up for their appointments and bookings well prepared.  In other words if we have sent you scripts or sides along with the audition, be familiar with your lines.  If we have referenced a subject, TV show, or anything else, do your research.

Easy To Work With Actors.   We are impressed with actors who are in a good mood, happy with what they are doing and happy to be given the moments to perform in the audition.

Up To Date Photos and Resume. You must look like your photo.  Maintain your resume every time there is a change.

Honesty.  It’s a waste of your time and the casting director’s time if you are not telling the truth or exaggerating.   If you say you do an accent well, you most do it well.  Confer with fellow actors or coaches for a reality check.

Good reels.  You need a demo of your on camera and voice over acting (if you do voice overs).  If you are reading this and don’t have a reel yet, this should be a goal that you are working towards.

In conclusion, work on your acting in your classes and get the best that you can be.  Blow us away with your choices and performance.  Make us laugh, cry, feel compassion, feel something….. and give us goose bumps.  Those who study commercial acting technique with me know I have a goose-bump-read body meter. When someone “gets it” the better the read, my goose bumps travel up and down my arms for quite a while.  In an audition, make the goose bump scale go way high and leave the room feeling great.


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Terry Berland is an award-winning casting director for on-camera, television, voiceover, and hosting. Her casting awards include Clio, The Houston International Film Festival, Art Director’s Club, Addy, and the International Film and Television Festival. Her former casting staff position for Madison Avenue giant BBDO/NY has contributed to her deep understanding and involvement in the advertising industry. She is known throughout the country for her talent development, and is the co-author of the how-to industry book,”Breaking Into Commercials.”

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