The Big 5: Top Takeaways From Our May Seminar With Casting Director Danielle Eskinazi

The charming and funny casting director Danielle Eskinazi joined us in May to talk about everything from casting decisions to what you should do with your hair to social media to what you should do with your hair to age type to what you should do with your hair, PLUS . . .  what you should do with your hair. Seriously, this month’s seminar had question after question about hair, from what ended up being an inexplicably high number of people, the answers to which can’t even be included here, because they were specifically about their hair. Anyway, here are some great takeaways that aren’t about hair!

1. Casting decisions are mysterious and unknowable.

mystery

Don’t bother wondering why you do or don’t get cast. Client decisions are mysterious and inscrutable. If you drive home wondering if you should have done this or that, or when you don’t get a callback wonder if it was your outfit or scene partner, or when you don’t book it after being on avail start to wonder if you should change your entire face and body and identity and state and occupation – don’t. Casting sort of lives and dies on people’s gut feelings and are probably a mystery to the decision makers themselves. And you should find that comforting, instead of feeling like you’re basing your whole life on a piece of driftwood that’s sitting in a soggy marsh of instability, the ultimate fate of which is determined by an inscrutable god. Ha ha ha ha – acting is fun!

2. When it comes to headshots, keep it simple.

simple

Headshots are about three things: your eyes, your expression, and your type. The thumbnail of your photo that shows up on Casting Networks and every other site is small, so use it wisely.

3. Don’t bombard CDs and agents on social media.

bombard

Use your social media channels as the place where you’re showing your personality, not where you ask casting directors and agents for a job/representation, all day errday, can’t stop won’t stop. Engage with them in a more human way, as if you were at a cocktail party and you’re respectfully joining the conversation. With that in mind, imagine you were at this cocktail party and you went up to every single conversation, multiple times, and said, “Hi, I want to be famous, give me a job, here is my photo.” You’d probably stop being invited to cocktail parties, because that’s very annoying.

4. You need an American accent.

accent

While no one would ever advise you to let go of your heritage or individuality, you need to have an American accent. Not forever and always, but think of it as part of your toolkit, like you would improv or the ability to cry on cue. It’s not realistic to think you can be cast as every role under the sun without the accent, and regional accents if you can manage that too, of whatever country you’re in. If you were in the United Kingdom or Russia or Nigeria or China, the advice would be the same. Your job in a commercial is to be a stand-in for the audience. A British woman in an improv class of mine did all her scenes with an American accent just to practice it, because she knows what’s up.

5. Okay. I give. Let’s talk about hair.

hair

You can ask a casting director about your hair all day (or at least an hour and a half in our experience), but the only answer anyone is gonna be able to give, is that you should just have the hair that’s true to your type. So if you’re concerned your hair is keeping you from booking because you’re afraid the casting director might have hair requirements they’re keeping secret from you while they twirl their metaphorical mustache from a darkened corner, just ask yourself if you’re really being honest about what types you can believably play. You might be going for “glam glam clubgoer,” but if your essence and look reads “librarian,” just having a sick blowout isn’t going to book you that clubgoer role. And if you can play both, just do a glam wavy look for the clubgoer role, but put in some modest barrettes for the librarian. Dress it down or dress it up, but most importantly BE HONEST WITH YOURSELF ABOUT YOUR TYPE. You get it.


Lindsay Katai is a writer/performer/debtor in Los Angeles and serves as Casting Networks’ Marketing Communications Specialist. She has come to terms with the fact that her type is best described as “socially awkward Wednesday Addams.” She’s worked at Casting Networks since 2010.

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