How to nail a TV casting




Okay, the title of this blog entry is a teensy bit misleading.


There's actually no way to guarantee nailing a casting, there are so many factors and variables involved in the decision-making process once you've left the casting room.


But there are TWO things you CAN do EVERY TIME to make sure you maximise your chances in the casting room.


That's right. Be decisive.


My agent just confirmed that I'd been cast in an episode of the BBC's EastEnders. I'm currently learning my lines and shooting this week and it's a bit of a milestone for me.


An EastEnders casting has a particular challenge - in order to maintain confidentiality over plotlines you only see the script once you've arrived at the casting. Actually, I love this because it takes the pressure off "knowing" the lines and places the emphasis more on how you perform. But it does mean really minimal preparation time. You can (and should) get there in very good time, but you will still be faced with an unfamiliar script - a character you don't yet know and a scenario you've only just discovered. How do you use the limited time you have to craft an impressive enough performance?


You choose. And quickly. Read the script all the way through once and then decide on some basic truths. What does my character need from this scene and why? How did she arrive in this scene? (It doesn't matter that you don't actually know, just make a choice). What will she do after this scene? (ditto) What are two or three character traits I could be aware of in her that might be subtly applied to give her some emotional depth, even in a cold read? (Don't overplay this, just be aware of who she might be).


Now you've made your choice, read the script over with those character choices and motivations in your consciousness. Et voila! Your script-read, even with a few stumbles over the words, will have some sparkle to it.


Once you've made the choice stick with it.


Until the director gives you a note. Then you have to....

Change a heartbeat.

You made a choice and you were fantastic. Now the director wants to check you're not just a one-trick pony. Or super-precious about your delivery. Or difficult.

Learn to listen to the notes. Really listen. And then learn to lose your mindset and take on the director's (or casting director's) vision. Learn to flip an internal switch that allows you to change your inner dynamic to align it with what the director wants. You can't just do this externally, to do it authentically you have to feel it from the inside out. You have to learn to adjust the internal emotions of your charcter instantly when asked. You have to learn to be able to give your character a little shake-up, a re-set and then go again. Now you need to be able to give up the lovely choice you made and take on someone else's. Because that's what you'll have to do on set.

Of course there's more...

Of course there are other things you can do to help you be your best in the room and feel positive afterwards - know that you DO deserve this chance and you ARE up to the job, know that they ASKED for YOU to be in the room, know that whatever happens you've been SEEN and hopefully you'll be REMEMBERED.

But if you make choices and embrace change then you'll be making an impression whether you nail the part this time or next time!

Now go get 'em!

Write a comment

Comments: 3
  • #1

    Andrew Lawden (Friday, 03 July 2015 16:51)

    very good vanessa ,

    great piece of advice and very true . my freind glen wallace is working on it at present , hope myou get to work with him

    andrew x

  • #2

    Andrew iwasyszyn (Sunday, 19 July 2015 22:14)

    Nice advice

  • #3

    Vanessa (Sunday, 19 July 2015 23:41)

    Thanks Andrew and... Andrew! :D