The other night I got to have an amazing dinner with a casting director. She’s kind of a big deal. Her casting agency doesn’t just cast for parts in reality shows, they actually produce some of the shows as well. Needless to say, I was impressed. And I wanted to learn as much as I could about how she does her job.
As the drinks began to flow, she really opened up about how the casting world actually works. I wish I’d had a notebook to write down everything she said, but I certainly remember my three key takeaways:
1. Casting Directors Need You as Much as You Need Them
Casting directors have a tough job… especially those who work on reality shows. They have to search high and low for very specific characters. Imagine if you had to find a one-armed swordfighter or an alligator-wrestling widow on a very tight deadline with a very limited budget. It’s incredibly difficult and very stressful. So if you think you’re right for a reality show, be sure to promote your special skills and characteristics. When you make a free ClaimFame profile remember to include all of these in the “About Me” section – and then share your profile everywhere on social media so it’s easy for casting directors to find.
2. Casting Directors Use a Lot of Elbow Grease
My casting director friend explained how she cast for a recent project for a major network: To find a specific type of character, she searched old-fashioned newspaper articles for possible storylines that could lead to the right person. Then she cold-called those people on the phone to interview them. If they weren’t right, she asked for referrals to their similar friends. She posted to appropriate blogs hoping someone would answer her inquiry.
Pretty old-school, right? The moral of the story is: Make it easy for them. Make sure casting directors can find you online with current information. Make it clear how to contact you. And make sure you have a presence on all the social media platforms so that every Google search turns up your name!
3. It’s All About Chemistry
I asked my casting director friend what happens after she identifies a possible character for a reality show. She explained that then there’s usually a Skype interview. Nobody looks their best on Skype, of course, but she does her best to evaluate the person nonetheless. If they’re a serious contender, she’ll often fly out to meet them in person.
And that’s where the chemistry comes in. Regardless of how “qualified” you are, all that really matters is whether you have the “right stuff” to be a great reality character. What does that mean? No one knows for sure…it’s just a matter of chemistry. Can she picture you capturing the viewers’ attention every week for months at a time? That’s where their expertise comes in.
So how can you prepare for this? Simply be yourself. Honestly, if you don’t click with the casting director, it probably wasn’t meant to be. But if you’re a good match for the project, the chemistry will take care of the rest!