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In March, we had the very charming and knowledgable Karen Ryan of Canvas Casting speak at our seminar. She had some great stuff to tell everyone and you’re welcome to comb through our live tweet of the day by searching the hashtag #cniseminar (where you’ll find all previous seminar tweets too). But Karen has a lovely Irish accent, so tweets are a pretty poor substitute for the real thing. That said, here are five great takeaways from the day.

1. Set Your Commercial Scene

set scene

Yes, commercial auditions are short and there isn’t much time to show off your acting chops. But you know what you can do? Set your scene with the subtle actions you would normally do in the situation of the spot. Are you supposed to be an office worker at their desk? Type the way you would actually type, with the expression you’d actually have. I’m doing that now and if I turn my attention on myself, I seem to be weirdly biting my bottom lip and I look perturbed. Why do I look perturbed? I don’t know, but it could have something to do with the fact that Prince died today. More importantly though, those are two things I could use to be a more believable actor in my audition. I had an acting teacher who once advised me to pick one thing in a room and decide that thing is the camera. How does that make you behave and what kinds of normal actions would it catch you doing?

2. Improvisers Can Jump Into Jobs On Short Notice


Add this to the mile long list of reasons you should be taking improv classes: improvisers are trained in making choices quickly, so a casting director knows that if they have to cast or recast an actor with no time to audition, an improviser is going to be able to deliver.

3. Your Scene Partner/Group Matters Less Than You Think


Are you auditioning with a person who’s totally bungling it? Making choices that are too big, not taking direction, getting their lines wrong? Whatever it may be, don’t worry. The CD will see when you’re making it work and the other person isn’t. They’ll judge you by you, and not them. And if they truly need to see more to judge you apart from your crazypants partner, they’ll call you in with a different group.

4. Look Like Your Headshot

look like headshot

Maybe more important than the quality of your headshot is whether or not you look like your headshot. It’s one thing if the resolution or lighting is low, but if they bring you in because your headshot says “I’m a college student!” and you show up and your crow’s feet say, “I’m a tired ass parent of five?” Uh uh. That’s not gonna fly. Get new headshots that say the same thing as your face and then you can be called in for tired ass parent of five. C’mon, you’ve seen a laundry detergent commercial; you know that role exists. Why fight it? It pays!

5. Beginners Can Have Resumes Too


If you’re just starting out, that’s no excuse to leave your Casting Networks profile empty. You can still enter skills, training, other experience, etc. Being a beginner isn’t a crime, but being a completely blank slate is. If the only thing in your profile is your name and stats, that’s a no-no. A class you can list is as good as a beginner’s credit.

Lindsay Katai is a writer/performer/debtor in Los Angeles and serves as Casting Networks’ Marketing Communications Specialist. She has come to terms with the fact that her type is best described as “socially awkward Wednesday Addams.” She’s worked at Casting Networks since 2010.