“I greatly admire actors who have the determination and passion to stick it through rejection”.
Success in any industry is challenging, yet when your chosen vocation consists of an enterprise built entirely on the lucrative world of entertainment, one’s obstacles exist in another stratosphere. Throw in the scarcity of Australian show business and you have yourself an audacious professional recipe.
Casting director Kirsty McGregor is the crème de le crème of the Australian film and television industry. Originally an actress, in 2001 her passion for talent ignited the birth of McGregor Casting in her modest one bedroom flat in Sydney’s Woolloomooloo. One year later, Kirsty’s strong work ethic was reaping the awards, and she opened her office in the Sydney suburb of Stanmore. Fast forward 14 years, 68 TV and Film credits, a Primetime Emmy Award nomination, a Casting Guild Australia (CGA) Award winner, and two time nominee for the Casting Society of America Awards, Kirsty now runs her business from a deluxe warehouse space in the chic suburb of Redfern – home to McGregor Casting since 2011.
With the grander space came the larger projects, and Kirsty has been appointed local casting director for Thor: Ragnarok, currently filming in Queensland, Australia and Mary Magdalene, directed by Garth Davis and starring Joaquin Phoenix. McGregor first worked with Davis as lead casting director on his first feature film Lion. Starring Nicole Kidman, the film received glowing reviews at its premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 10, 2016 and is due for a USA release on November 25, 2016.
The dynamic team now comprises of six key players (including Ollie, a majestic Cocker Spaniel – aka the resident “Casting Dog”), and Kirsty’s determination has undoubtedly established McGregor Casting as a prominent fixture in the daily lives of local and international acting agents.
Here at Casting Networks, we are proud sponsors of the Casting Guild Australia Awards and can say wholeheartedly it is hard to imagine a time without the incomparable McGregor Casting. This year a plethora of CGA Award nominations have been added to their list and the winners will be announced on November 18, 2016. With nominations in seven categories, including Best Casting for a Feature Film, Best Casting for a TV Commercial, Best Casting for a Short Film, two nominations for Best Casting in a Telemovie, Best Casting in a TV Comedy and Best Casting in a TV Drama, it is evident that Kirsty McGregor and her troupe have sealed their place as Australia’s go-to Casting Agency.
On behalf of everyone here at Casting Networks Australia we would like to congratulate McGregor Casting and wish Kirsty and her crew the best of luck at the awards.
Alixandra: As a young actress why did you decide to take the leap from performing to casting?
Kirsty McGregor: I worked a decent amount for a young actor. I was very fortunate to work on some great projects and for some amazing companies and networks. But I realised that there’s no guarantee of “working your way up’.” I had actor friends who were AMAZING, the best in the biz, and selling wine in their 40s between gigs. I just decided that whilst I loved the industry, I wanted to find something for myself which didn’t depend so much on my exact age at any given time and what I looked like. I greatly admire actors who have the determination and passion to stick it through rejection – I just wanted something more stable for myself.
A: Starting your own business certainly has its challenges. What are some of the obstacles you faced in the early days of your start-up?
KM: I was very fortunate to have some wonderful clients early on and friends who held my hand and gave me advice – like the wonderful Antonia Murphy at Fountainhead Casting. She encouraged me and made me believe I could go it alone. But we still face obstacles! And I still face rejection! Casting is still a very freelance job, like acting – there are still jobs we would LOVE to do that naturally go to other people. I think one of the greatest constant worries is employing people. We are a business, but still work from job to job. It could dry up at any time! You worry as much about your employees and making sure you can pay them as you do about yourself.
A: Describe a typical day in the McGregor Casting office?
KM: Can’t – sorry! It varies so much from day to day. And we like to retain some mystery.
A: What is some advice you can give actors on scoring a role and staying pro-active?
KM: Try not to think of it as scoring a role! Think of the audition as the job, not something you need to ‘get through’. If you can, come in with something to offer . . . come in and PLAY the role, don’t try and get the role. It’s a very powerful, positive, and refreshing way to approach an audition.
Ollie the Casting Dog
A: You have a number of exciting projects which you have been signed to, including Thor:Ragnarok and Mary Magdalene. How important is it for actors to have complete profiles on Casting Networks in order for them to maximise their chances of landing an audition?
KM: We use Casting Networks every hour of every day. I cannot express how important a tool it is for us. We brief on it, we book sessions via it, and we send every casting session to directors on it! Not only is it important for an actor be on the site, it is important to keep your CV and headshot UP TO DATE. We send a link to every director; they see ALL your information. What is the point of spending money on a new headshot (for example) and then not updating it so that directors will actually see it?
“I still don’t look at it as if I’ve come out.
Coming out, what does that mean? What I’m concerned about is people as human beings.”
– Tab Hunter
Tab Hunter, Hollywood’s 1950s Golden Boy
Silver screen sirens and all-American boys – a grandiose mix of heartthrobs manufactured by major film studios that compelled millions of fans worldwide. From Metro-Goldwyn Mayer to 20th Century Fox, this was the recipe that dominated the American and global cinema industry during the Golden Age of Hollywood.
Tab Hunter was one such all-American sweetheart. Born Arthur Kelm on 11 July 1931 in New York City to a German Catholic immigrant mother and a Jewish father, Hunter later moved to California with his mother, brother, and grandparents after his parents’ divorce. The divorce also initiated a name change, from “Kelm” to his mother’s maiden name “Gelien.” In California, he served a stint with the Coast Guard (until it was discovered he was only 15), and was a competitive figure skater. Hunter who has always been an avid horse enthusiast even worked a job at a stable. However, it was only a matter of time before the statuesque man with movie star good looks seized the eyes of the Hollywood moguls.
“Do not the most moving moments of our lives find us all without words?”
– Marcel Marceau
Philippe at The Pheasantry. 1970’s. Photo credit by
This is the age of over-consumption. Humanity has become immersed in consumerism; a throwaway planet where objects are frequently valued more than people and the phrase “out with the old and in with the new” manifests an odor which, vigorously infiltrates our lives. Nothing is made to last. From cars to relationships, if something is no longer purposeful we “swipe left” and thus, it is rendered useless.
The modern world can be a tremendously expensive place to live. However, as we all fall victims to a disposable society affecting both our purse strings and emotions it is imperative we remember the importance of a culture that has always stood the test of time.
Storytelling is a crucial narrative to our society and the cultural wealth it generates is a priceless commodity we must nurture, as the modern world evolves so too do some of the finest art forms of storytelling.
Philippe Mora is a world-class LA based filmmaker and artist; hailing from the iconic Melbourne based bohemian family, the Mora’s have been a fixture in the Australian art scene since the 1950’s. Born in Paris in 1949, the son of George Mora, a French Resistance fighter, Entrepreneur and Restaurateur and Mirka Mora a renowned Australian artist, Philippe’s brilliant knack for combining his personal and artistic endeavors with commercial recognition is a talent in itself.
“Bobby Slayton is one of the few original politically incorrect comedians. He’ll pick on everyone from the Mafia to the Muslims. I wanted to punch him in the mouth a couple of times when he opened for me, but I was laughing too hard to make a fist. No one is safe from the bite of ‘The Pitbull.’” – Actor/Singer, Robert Davi
Humor is infectious. When laughter is shared it binds people together, and increases happiness and intimacy. It is no joke that a gargantuan chuckle has the ability to relieve stress and send signals to our brains sparking priceless endorphins, confirming that some good old guffaw-ing can be just what the Doctor ordered.
Comedians are often fallaciously identified by their on stage personas, and the gags they tell about their lives are believed by many to have an element of truth. However, the tears of a clown are shed in the dark and these extroverted entertainers are often the most complex and fascinating of performers.
Named one of Comedy Central Network’s “Top 100 Comedians of all Time,” with his unique candid flair, Bobby Slayton, aka “The Pitbull of Comedy,” aka “Yid Vicious,” has been mesmerizing audiences for over 30 years.
The talent of The Pitbull does not end at comedy; his distinctive gravelly voice can be heard on Family Guy and Dr. Katz, as well as popular USA radio shows including Howard Stern, Kevin & Bean, and Tom Leykis.
“It is as true today as it ever was, he who seeks beauty will find it.”
– Bill Cunningham
Humanity is an ocean, a seductive blue attractive to the eye, and although its clarity can at times become tainted, if you choose to have the courage to delve deep into tarnished waters you will always uncover hidden treasures.
Artists are eternal seekers of beauty. They use their imaginations to convey the gritty truth of humanity. These people are divine, they discover splendour wherever they go, and they inspire others to find it too.
William J. “Bill” Cunningham was one of Earth’s rare angels. With an innate joie de vivre, he followed his bliss by combining his passions for photography, New York City, and, of course, fashion. From the tenacity of downtown Manhattan to the uptown socialites, he candidly exposed the magnificent city of New York to the world.
He was never interested in money, having once said, “Money is the cheapest thing. Freedom is the most expensive.” Bill was interested in people and considered fashion to be “the armour to survive everyday life.”
“If I cannot fly, let me sing.” ― Stephen Sondheim
The gift of voice is perhaps the most powerful gift of all. When one sings, the resonance creates a crescendo, awakening a passion, an unspoken thought or feeling we would otherwise fail to recognize. Music unites nations, soothes broken hearts, and feeds the soul. The sound of a beautiful voice sets the human spirit free.
There is an abundance of exquisite voices in the world, and the name “Streisand” would have to be at the forefront of the list. Her voice is “soft as budda” and she has been labelled “the greatest star” on many occasions. Heck, one of the most well-known songs from her first film, “Funny Girl,” had her singing, “I’m the greatest star,” as though it were a premonition catapulting her into a lifetime of unimaginable success.
However, there is someone else with the same infamous long fingers who also inherited the heavenly “Streisand” voice, a dynamic songstress whose talent, vitality, and humour is truly one of a kind.
Nine years her junior, Roslyn Kind is Barbra Streisand’s equally remarkable sister. With her Brooklyn charm and lustrous voice she has been taking the New York theatre and global club scene by storm since her late teens.
To be an actor, one must have the skin of a rhino and the heart of a baby. The vulnerability required to achieve authenticity and greatness in one’s craft is directly opposite to the strength and tenacity needed to survive in an industry where, for 90% of actors, unemployment is a way of life.
There is no business like show business. Everyone has a story to tell. Poverty, if one is not resourceful, can be the harsh reality for many actors. However, the business for those who rise to the occasion is a multi-million dollar industry, a dog eat dog world which gives a whole new meaning to the term “hustle.” The actor is no longer an artist, but a commodity.
Along my journey as an actor I have, and will, undoubtedly continue to experience highs and lows. I have learnt that not everyone will have your best interest at heart, to always stay true to yourself, to listen to that invaluable artist intuition, and that for every person who rejects you or abuses your trust, there is always someone who will believe in you and build you right back up again.
For me that someone is actor, author, teacher, and New York City’s finest Casting Director, Jeffrey Dreisbach.
“Loretta, I love you. Not like they told you love is, and I didn’t know this either, but love don’t make things nice – it ruins everything. It breaks your heart. It makes things a mess. We aren’t here to make things perfect. The snowflakes are perfect. The stars are perfect. Not us. Not us! We are here to ruin ourselves and to break our hearts and love the wrong people and *die*. The storybooks are *bullshit.* Now I want you to come upstairs with me and *get* in my bed!”
– John Patrick Shanley, Moonstruck
In the age of the Kardashians and social media it is no secret that the number of Instagram followers can be of great importance when securing an agent or landing a role, sometimes even more than actual talent. However, social media followers aside it is essential to remember that actors are first and foremost, storytellers; the success of this storytelling starts in the hands of the writer. The dynamics of emotion and language build a momentum that ignites the passion of storytelling for an actor. When all the pieces come together, that’s where the magic happens and that’s a story that needs to be heard.
John Patrick Shanley is a true master in his craft, and absolutely one of my favourite contemporary playwrights. From stage to screen his unique style of writing embodies just the right amount of chutzpah and elegance to satisfy the most jaded audience member, he even has a plethora of awards to prove it including an Academy Award, Pulitzer Prize, Tony Award, Drama Desk Award, Writers Guild of America Award, an Outer Critics Circle Award and two Lucille Lortel Awards.
Is it any wonder Shanley won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for “Moonstruck” whilst Cher’s epic performance in the film earned her an Academy Award for Best Actress?
He not only wrote the stage and screenplay “Doubt: A Parable” he also directed two of the finest Actors of our time, Meryl Streep and Philip Seymour Hoffman whilst winning five awards for the production including a Tony Award, Drama Desk Award and Pulitzer Prize.
He is the author of more than 23 plays, which have been translated and performed around the world, including 80 productions a year in North America. In 2015 I produced Shanley’s “The Big Funk”, an invigorating play about how the power of compassion and faith in others will help us triumph over the modern condition.
New York City will rob you, cheat on you, and turn your friends against you. It will kick your ass and downright break your heart, then, in a New York minute, it will pick you back up again, make you feel so extraordinary you couldn’t possibly be alive anywhere else. You will feel like you are in the centre of the world.
Why? Because that is exactly where you are.
As an actor and singer I have always been drawn to the Big Apple. LA, whilst sunny and glamorous often finds me struggling to navigate a stick shift through endless traffic jams (not just on freeways). However, the authenticity permeating the city of New York is a testament to all its inhabitants. Its energy fuels creativity and exudes passion whilst being a constant reminder that no matter who you are, reality is only a subway ride away.
“What is a teacher? I’ll tell you: it isn’t someone who teaches something, but someone who inspires the student to give of her best in order to discover what she already knows.”
― Paulo Coelho
Artists are beautiful creatures. Forever inspired by each other. The great ones build each other up exposing their souls to a world, which with all its inherent beauty can often be a cruel and dismissive place. It is easy to lose one’s way in life in any vocation when adversity rears its ugly head. Yet, adversity to an artist can occur daily and consists of rejection, long hours, solitude, financial struggles, and unfulfilled dreams. Sacrifice is a way of life for the dedicated artist who too often, with the bills piling up, moves on to greener pastures (dollars), depriving society of the gifts they were born to share.
It is at these times when the wise artist will turn to a friend, a teacher, a mentor to inspire and remind them what it is they were put on this earth to do.read more