A Director's Perspective: When Actors Approach You

A Director's Perspective: When Actors Approach You

Jeff Watkins

On occasion, I have been approached by people I have never had anything to do with, who seem to think I may have a higher level of involvement then perhaps I actually do, or are possibly a little inexperienced in the way things actually work. The most common request I get from complete strangers who have an interest in acting is that I let them know of anything that might be appropriate for them to do.

“Please keep me in mind if anything comes you think I might be suited for.”

Ummm…. Right. I’m not sure exactly what one is meant to do with that, so if anyone asks me this question, I usually try to explain to them why this won’t really help them at all, such as I’m not involved in the casting of every show, nor am able to comment on their behalf when I don’t know who they are, etc… What usually happens is that they either completely miss my point and persist with their request, or they get a little trollish and become insulting. 

Seriously?

To anyone reading this who may have done this, and possibly still not understand why this is odd, let me try to explain in detail.

I’m an Actor and must audition just like anyone else. I am not a casting consultant, or a casting agent. I do not have the representatives or directors of various theatrical productions/companies on speed dial. If I want to do a show, I must audition like everyone else, which means that I’m not in a position to recommend anyone for anything. 

  1. “Hi. While I’m here auditioning for your show, I just wanted to let you know about this person who approached me out of the blue and said they are interested in doing theatre. Waddya think?”
  2. If I’m directing, you will apply just like anyone else. I am someone who believes very strongly in fairness and transparency. This means that if I’m asking for people to audition, then that means everyone auditions. I appreciate it when other directors hold similar values, so why would I recommend someone else for a role in a show I may have nothing to do with?
  3. “Hey, I see you’re auditioning for a musical. There’s person I don’t really know too well asking me to put them up for show. Waddya think?”
  4. I Don’t Know You. There have been occasions, after having been cast into a show, that the audition process was not able to fill all the roles. In those instances, sometimes that actors are asked to recommend anyone they know, who are then interviewed also. Now before I am going to recommend you to anyone, I can promise you one question that the director will be asking me; “Are they any good?” How am I to answer that question when I don’t know you? Answer: I can’t, so I won’t be recommending someone I don’t know. 

I think point 3 is the most important. Even if I was in a position to make recommendations to casting directors, why would I suggest someone I can’t even comment on? I mean this is a reality check here. It’s simply not going to happen, and it’s not being nasty or self-righteous, it’s simple logic. If I am going to recommend anyone, I’m going to suggest someone I think can do the role, and it is not about looks in the slightest. It’s about talent.

And don’t take that as permission for you to submit show reels, or CVs, etc. Please refer to the first two points before you even contemplate this idea.

If you are interested in doing acting, at any level, then just like me you will need to put in the hard work to find the auditions on your own. I’ll happily point you in the direction of places in the internet where local auditions are posted, and I’ll even advise you on local theatre companies that may be most convenient to you, but it is your job to find the shows you want to do, you think you can do, and then apply, audition, and cross your fingers, just like me.

Finally, and perhaps most significantly, if any actor was to try this approach with a professional casting consultant, and I mean in the manner I have outlined above, a simple query to keep an eye out for roles, I can promise you that you won’t even get the reply that I would give you. Most likely your request will end up in the electronic trashcan. Worst case, your name will be added to a watch list which may then be distributed to other consultancy services, which would then make it very difficult for you. Trust me this happens.

Becoming an actor is not a case of finding the right connections. That helps certainly, but no-one is going to work harder for you initially than you. Until you have a reason for others to be interested in you, no-one will be keeping an eye out for you

Photo: Woolly Mammoth Theatre

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