F*R*I*E*N*D*S: Don't Be Accused of Nepotism!


Erin Shaughnessy

So your friend has auditioned for your show.

Before casting them in the role that they have written down on the audition form, go through this checklist to make sure you’re not practicing nepotism, which in the workplace, is illegal! Nepotism:


ˈnepəˌtizəm/ noun: nepotism, the practice among those with power or influence of favoring relatives or friends, especially by giving them jobs.

  1. Check your power when you walk in the door.
    They say that absolute power corrupts absolutely, right? So don’t corrupt things. Let the casting process happen without you having to throw your proverbial weight around just because someone gave you some authority.

  2. If you want to precast a show, write it in the audition notice.
    All auditions are excellent practice for the actor, but most don’t want to waste their time coming to audition for a role that you’ve already filled but are too shady to put in the casting notice.

  3. Are you the director of the show?

The only person that has any business casting a show is the director with the input of a musical director if you are doing a musical. Everyone else in the room can offer their input, but the ultimate decision should come down to the director- and if you hired the director and are producing the show, you should trust him or her enough to make a decision that will benefit the show you are putting up.

*Also* if you are not the director and want the show precast, letting him or her know in advance would be the least moronic way to handle the situation.

  1. Do you have to threaten the director’s paycheck to get your friend the role?
    If the director wants to make a decision but it’s not in your friend’s favor, the route you should not go is telling the director that you are his boss and that you sign his paychecks. That’s immoral and makes you a terrible person.

  2. Is the person you want to cast better than the other people who showed up for the audition?
    If you have to say “well I’ve worked with him/her before and she was great” then your answer is probably no. If you have worked with  another person who auditioned in the past who were just as great and gave a better audition, cast that person. And, if you haven’t worked with someone and they gave a better audition and callback and are not a convicted felon, cast that person! Bottomline, cast people based off of talent and merit before casting someone just because they’re your friend.

And on the off chance that you are an immoral person and cast someone that isn’t the best suited for the role just because you’re friends/family with them and someone finds out about it, here’s how not to deal with it:

  1. You should not post on social media targeting people who think that your favoritism is unfair. Saying that individuals cannot handle rejection is a silly accusation if the person has been in the business for some time because chances are, they can handle rejection. They’re probably just bad at dealing with people screwing them over. Which, in this case, would be understandable.

  2. If you get called out for practicing nepotism and have to defend your actions by threatening another person’s career, you’re a scummy person and are what’s wrong with the theatre industry.

  3. If you have done this for years and have gotten away with it, consider changing your methods. It’s not a great practice to continue. Audiences like to see new faces! Also, if people say “oh, of course, that’s who was cast” every time they see a cast list for a production you’re involved with, there’s a problem, and it’s probably you.

  4. If you were vetoed in an audition room, don’t become spineless and pretend like you didn’t have a problem with it beforehand just so you don’t ruffle the feathers of your superiors. That makes you a weak person with weak morals. Don’t throw people under the bus just because it makes you look better to people who suck.

  5. Don’t blacklist people just because they question your decisions. If you’re giving people a reason to question your authority, you may want to fix whatever it is that is making them doubt you in the first place. Reflect on yourself. Maybe you’re not perfect. That’s okay. No one is. We can always make ourselves better people.

Follow these simple guidelines of practical, morally sound casting and your theatre experience will be a blast! Have fun and don’t practice nepotism! It makes you look bad.