Casting directors are undeniably an integral part of the acting industry. They help mold potentially great actors and put them in the position to boost their career. While they are considered as being “behind-the-scenes,” they are the key to helping actors succeed and eventually land roles in film and television.
Jen Rudolph, a casting director who broke into the field after studying drama at Ithaca College, is one of the most recognized in her field. She created The Actor’s Green Room in New York City five years ago and has worked with actors who have gone on to have very successful careers, such as Matt McGorry from critically acclaimed “Orange is the New Black,” Michelle Monaghan of “Mission: Impossible III,” Mike Vogel of CBS' "Under the Dome," and Ian Somerhalder of CW's “Vampire Diaries.”
In an interview with International Business Times, Rudolph spoke about everything from what her position at The Actor’s Green Room entails and how she teaches actors, to the process for casting, how she finds and makes stars, and tips on breaking into the industry.
IBT: What questions do you ask yourself when first speaking to an actor who seeks your advice?
Rudolph: Two main questions I ask myself are, ‘What is their brand, and what is their type?’ I consider myself an ‘ultimate trainer’ to an extent, as I come up with a trajectory and then my team and I implement it.
IBT: When an actor comes to you asking for guidance, what do you do to help them?
Rudolph: We first have to harness specific skills. I help them shape what they need to shape. We have to tap into what makes them unique. We have to figure out, ‘What is it about you that is special and what is it that people are going to hone in on when they meet you?”
IBT: What is one of the major faux pas when an actor comes to you?
Rudolph: Headshots are very important to getting cast in the acting industry. If you come in and your head shot looks like a yearbook photo, that basically says you don’t understand how the business works. It is kind of like going on a date wearing sweatpants. It is not a good first impression. So if an actor comes in with headshots that do not work, we get them new headshots. Another important thing is their resume. Often, their resume needs fine-tuning, so we help them with that.
IBT: What makes an ideal actor?
Rudolph: A really good actor is smart and educated, so they have to know what’s going in New York and who they have to meet. When I work with people, I set up list of people who are casting for jobs the actor I am working with would be in contention for. And then they have to meet these people.
IBT: How do you determine if an actor is more suited for television or film?
Rudolph: Television and film are pretty much a similar medium. If you can do television, you can do film and vice versa.
IBT: How does that decision process work?
Rudolph: I’m the liaison between agent and manager. I can hone in on what feels organic for a certain person and what it is that everyone will respond to.
IBT: And finally, what are some tips you can provide for breaking into showbiz?
Rudolph: * They definitely need to go to iTunes and listen to my free weekly podcasts, where we at The Actor’s Green Room talk with people who have made it, people in casting, directors, etc.
* I would say it’s important to know yourself and maybe ask your friends what are the qualities that most jump out about you and usually imperfections are the traits that are going to get you hired.
* Be as educated as possible. Look at websites, look at who’s casting what. You can do preliminary work without being in New York.
* Get a great headshot.
* Do student films in college.
* You have to invest and build relationships. Biggest mistake is people saying ‘I want to be like so-and-so.' People aren’t overnight sensations. Most people aren’t. Just because you see them all of a sudden most of the time they have been on the pavement forever. Achieving your goal requires a lot of patience and work. There is no timeline; just enjoy the process and hustle.
* Be memorable and have layers.