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Laurieby Casting Director, Laurie Records

A multi part series for the not-so-established actor, hoping to improve their career.

It is so important that you are available to actually work on the commercial for which you are auditioning.  If you have read these articles in the past, you know I have brought this up before… if you have ever gone to hear a commercial casting director speak, they all have mentioned it.  It is common sense, but it seems to happen over and over…  Actors are not always available for the shoot, even when they say they are.  There are all sorts of reasons why actors later admit that they are not available for the shoot, or not entirely available.  No matter what the excuse may be, at the end of the day, you are not entirely available, like you and/or your agent said you were.  Your reason doesn’t matter to your employer.  Although, there seems to be a myth that if it is acting related, it is somehow more acceptable. I want to highlight a specific situation…

Commercial actors should never take a role in a play or musical without an understudy, if they plan on pursuing commercial work during the run.

Let me say right now, that I love theatre.  I think it is important that actors flex their acting muscles and get up on stage.  It is necessary.

Good.  Great.  Theatrically a must.  It could never hurt commercially.  BUT, it isn’t terribly conducive to shooting a commercial.  True, skipping a rehearsal due to a booking of a commercial would be understood.  I have never heard that excuse.  What I have heard, after an actor has been put on avail (that’s right, after the audition and callback with not even a peep about a schedule conflict) is that the actor is only available until 6:00 on the shoot date(s) because they are in a play with no understudies… under contracts… they cannot miss the performance.

Bravo to the dedicated actor!  You shouldn’t flake on your fellow actors, director and people who paid their hard earned money to see you in a brilliant piece of theatre… but you cannot flake on your favorite commercial casting director, either.  When the casting director has to make the call to let their clients know their #1 choice for the hero role in their commercial has to leave the set at 6:00, I guarantee EVERYONE is pissed off and scrambling.  No one ever knows for sure when a shoot will end.  Shoots are stressful enough without a deadline on one of the actors.  They will be mad and you should never, never make anyone at a production company or ad agency mad.  These are the folks that REQUEST your presence at an audition for any future project they may be working on.  They can give you work.  Lots and lots of work… and the flipside is they can make sure you never work on a job they are involved with again.  Ugg.

So, my words of wisdom to you are:  only take roles in shows in which understudies are provided, take a break from commercial auditions that shoot during the run of your play/musical, or at the very least, when receiving a callback, make sure your agent knows to tell casting that you are only available until (?) time on the shoot dates, due to your performance schedule.  Then, the clients can make an informed decision without the madness and drama…  And your good name is still in tact.

Laurie Records, Casting Director