An actor on the other side of the casting process – part 1

As an actor, I have had more than my fair share of auditions. Some good, some bad, some thoroughly unmemorable. This week has been somewhat different, as I have spent it on the other side of the table, and it has been an eye opening experience.

Now, this audition has had to be held at very short notice, which was far from ideal. The casting went live Thursday morning and I quickly checked my phone on my lunch break from rehearsals.

Oooh! 18 applications. Excellent. I didn’t think I’d have this many at such short notice.

When I arrived home and excitedly logged into Casting Call Pro I was very disappointed.

Now, it was quite a long casting breakdown (It is still on the blog, if you are curious) but I wanted to make sure that potential applicants were very clear on what I was looking for. The short version is: Woman, late 20s, Large build, based in Manchester, northern accent.

What did I get?

Anything but. I had two submissions from an agent who was clearly just submitting girls for whatever jobs came up in their age range. The covering letter was a generic copy and paste job that listed the girls’ skills and recent credits. I’m sure it is lovely that your client has trapeze skills and conversational French, but I really don’t care. I asked for late 20s, large build, based in Manchester. Your client being a grade 8 flautist does not make up for the fact she looks 19, is a size 8 and based in Somerset!

Those who were listed as slim (which was at least 10 of the applicants) were instantly marked as unsuitable.

I had two suggestions of a fat suit and one girl that said she loves cake.

Cake girl was also based in London.

I really don’t understand it. Why waste your time like that? Now, the women who were lacking one of the five things on the list, I get it. You take a punt and in the event that I couldn’t find someone who had everything I wanted, then I might give you an audition. I’ve done the same thing myself many times. The experience from this side of the process has made me realise that it is pointless.

Because the fact is, there will always be SOMEONE who does have all of the things on the list.

I asked for a woman of large build because it is integral to the script. How often do you see big girl as the romantic lead? Hardly ever. And if she is, the story is usually centred on her size and how she can never get a man until such and such comes along and blah blah blah. Sinead is far too busy working and being a single mum to be spending the whole time obsessing about her weight. She knows she doesn’t fit conventional standards of beauty – but she’s still sexy. Adam likes her because she’s witty, honest and completely unashamed of who she is. I wrote her because I wanted to reflect the real world and in the real world people of all different shapes and sizes fall in love.

It is also an opportunity for the actor to play a type of part that she would not normally get to play. Quality roles for larger women are not very easy to come by, so suggesting that you can eat some cake is not cute,  not funny, and not going to get you an audition.

I invited all of the suitable applicants to audition today. Eight out of twenty-six. I’ll let you know how it went when we announce the decision tomorrow.

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