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Terry Berlandby Casting Director, Terry Berland

 “Creatives don’t really know what they want” is a misunderstood statement.

Usually when someone makes this statement, there are negative connotations referencing the creatives as indecisive.  The statement does not mean that at all.  What is means is the creatives want you to create.

Definition of create: Bring (something) into existence: produce, generate, bring into being, make, fabricate, build, construct.

Recently, someone came to me for coaching and requested: I want to learn how to bring them what they want!   My answer: I promise you, you don’t want to learn how to bring them what they want.  You need to know how to bring them what you have! Auditioning from the latter is creative and is 180 degrees different than the former.

You need to know how to create within guidelines that are given to you. Theatrically, when you receive your sides, there are guidelines as to who the character is and, for a commercial, you receive notes regarding the character as you arrive at the audition.

The decision makers are looking for you to fulfill the character they have created.  Yes, they don’t know exactly what they want, they want you to bring them something.

Eliminating trying to figure out what the creatives want frees you to open up the gate to your creativity.

  1. You have room to make decisions true to your personality.
  2. 2.  You can explore an entire universe of subtle nuances to draw from.
  3. 3.  You can focus on the depth of YOUR work.
  4. 4.  You leave the audition feeling satisfied, whole, and creative.

If you treat a commercial speaking role audition as a short scene, you can find depth in choices to give you the end result of feeling connected.

Recently at an audition, a friend made her choices and felt really good. The session director then directed her in a completely different way. Listening, outwardly smiling while inwardly feeling the session director was wrong, she followed directions.  She booked the job and was told, “We loved your first read.  That’s how we want you to play this part”.

The actor could have very well made herself feel wrong about her first choice.  But she did not.  She felt good about her first choice, even though she was directed differently.  The session director was actually directing her the way she understood the creatives wanted the character to be played.

The creatives want to see your choices.  It would not be a creative business if they told you exactly what to do and were not open to your interpretation. They would receive a cookie cutter audition with different looks, all reading the same way.  Yes, creatives do not know exactly what they want, they want you to bring them what you got.


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Terry Berland is an award-winning casting director for on-camera, television, voice-over, and hosting. Her casting awards include Clio, The Houston International Film Festival, Art Director’s Club, Addy, and the International Film and Television Festival. Her former casting staff position for Madison Avenue giant BBDO/NY has lent to her deep understanding and involvement in the advertising industry. She is known throughout the country for her talent development and is the co-author of the how-to industry book,”Breaking Into Commercials.”