Amey René Morris is a casting director in Los Angeles and Seattle. She helped cast the pilots for Jane the Virgin and Modern Family, as well as numerous TV commercials, independent films, music videos, and more. For a more extensive breakdown of her experience, check out her IMDB page.
Here now are five lessons from the great seminar she gave for our users:
1. Don’t Make Excuses & Don’t Apologize
This is a biggie. Don’t do it. Not for your lateness, not for your lack of preparation, not for your performance. Oftentimes, the people in the room aren’t aware anything was even wrong, so don’t go helpfully pointing it out to them. Come in with poise and professionalism and let what you do speak for itself. Don’t diminish yourself by putting your own insecurities out into the world.
2. You’re the Homeowner; She’s the Real Estate Agent
Amey René gave us our new favorite actor/casting director analogy. Think of yourself as a homeowner putting their house up for sale. Sure, you get a real estate agent to show you to potential buyers, but you’ve got work to do as well. You’ve got to know what type of home you’re selling, you have to be familiar with the market, you have to be realistic about your range, you have to stage the home appropriately, and you have to fix up the yard. Your job is to make yourself as great an option as possible, her job is to show you off as a great find. Don’t just leave the orange shag carpeting and expect her to be able to sell that. You’ve got to get to those hardwood floors underneath. Everyone loves hardwood floors. Okay, I’m driving this into the ground. You get it.
3. Trust Your Look
What this means is that you should look like yourself in your photos. This is advice that gets said again and again by casting directors, which unfortunately means that not all of you are following this. Your headshot shoot is not the time to play make believe and dress up. It’s the time to capture who you really are and what you really look like, so that when casting directors are calling you in, they’re getting exactly who they expected and need for the role. This isn’t Glamour Shots and you’re not me in the fifth grade. Unless you are, in which case whoaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhh how are you reading this right now, 10-year-old me?!
Also, don’t go crazy on the number of photos you have on your Casting Networks profile. A few photos will get the job done. As long as you have a few photos showcasing different expressions and looks, you’re good. More than that and you start to give the impression that what you really want to do for a living is take pretty pictures. Go start a fashion blog if that’s what you want. And then send me a link to it, so that I can read it every day. Kthxbai.
4. The Camera Is Your Friend in Commercial Acting
We mean this almost literally. Say your lines as if you were saying them casually to your friend without being overtly presentational. Commercials are looking for you to be yourself and to be friendly. So unless you’re being directed specifically to be anything else, treat the copy as if you were talking to a buddy of yours.
5. Self-Taping Is About Simplicity
Technology is doing all the amazing work, so when you’re self-taping, keep it simple. Nothing distracting in the background, try to light it reasonably, and get a friend to read opposite you. You probably don’t need to go to a studio. Your phone is probably amazing enough. It’s 2015. Phones are good at everything now, except maybe being a phone. Just make sure you record it landscape style, not portrait. That’s wide, not tall.
And look out for our announcement about our next seminar, coming up on May 30. The day after my birthday! Bring me presents! Just kidding, don’t do that. That would be weird.
Lindsay Katai is a writer/performer/debtor who has worked at Casting Networks since 2010.