How the Casting Process Works!

Every Actor and Parent of a Child actor should know how the casting process works.  
Casting directors call in the actors that are submitted to them for specific roles. When a Casting Director has a role they need filled, they release information about that role on the breakdowns. Agents and Managers see that breakdown and submit any of their clients that fit that description. 

The Casting Director looks at all the pictures and acting reels that are submitted (500 or so) and then calls in the actors THEY want to see. For Commercials it can be in the thousands according to my friend Carol Lynn Sher at CESD. Sometimes they call in actor they have auditioned before, or hired before for other shows, or actors they have seen at workshops. Sometimes they call in actors they have never seen if they seem to fit the role.

There are different types of roles to audition for:

Series Regular (In every episode)
Recurring (in several episodes)
Guest Star (works 3-5 days)
Co-Star (works 1 day)


(These are how these credits should be billed on your resumes by the way.)

Meeting a casting director doesn’t guarantee employment anywhere, at any time, ever. But every time a casting director sees an actor they get to know the actor’s personality and their skills better and better over time. They discover which actors are really good, and which actors still need work They discover which actors are ready to work, and which actors are not yet. 

Casting Directors have very, very, VERY good memories. They can see an actor one time and determine if the actors is ready to work…and to which extent. Are they ready for co-stars, guest stars, or series regular roles? Every time a casting director is working with an actor in an audition format they are determining these things.

For example…What a casting director has a SERIES REGULAR role available, they will call in the actors they know who are capable of handling the demands of such a role. After that, they will call in additional actors to see if any of those would be able to handle the demands of such an important role. Sometimes during that process of screening actors for one role they discover an actor might be right for a different role…in the same project… or in another project. Casting Director’s keep track of all of this. 

FOR PARENTS OF CHILD ACTORS Your job as a parent is to keep taking your child to the auditions they get. And try to remember this is a numbers games.


The casting director is responsible for WHO gets seen and can influence a great deal but is not the final decision maker. 

It’s no different in film. Casting Directors are responsible for who is seen but they collaborate with their bosses, who make the final choices.

When an actor auditions for a film, the casting directors and the producers could take months to decide who fits the role. 

TV AUDITIONS With TV roles, Casting typically happens very quickly. For example: a Costar or Guest star role is cast in one week… and then works the following week because they shoot a new episode every single week. Therefore, the process of putting out a breakdown, auditioning people, giving callbacks, and then making the decision is very quick. 

All auditions start with the Casting Director. Once the CD is satisfied that the actor meets the description of the character, has interpreted the character in an interesting way, and has the acting skills necessary to do the job they will be given a CALLBACK.

When an actor gets a callback their agent or manager will let them know and a 2nd CALLBACK audition will be scheduled. A Callback means the Casting Director likes what the actor did in their preliminary PRE-READ audition. They are now seriously being considered for the role and may have 2 or 3 other callbacks until the Casting Director has whittled the selection from down from 500 actors to 5 or 10.  Once the Casting Director has enough confidence in the actor’s ability and performance to introduce the actor to their boss – the producers, the writers and sometimes the director – a Producer’s Session will be scheduled.

This next round of auditions called THE PRODUCER’S SESSION in an audition in which the show’s producers attend the audition. In this audition the actor needs to do exactly what they did in the PRE-READ session and Callback session with the Casting Director (unless told otherwise by casting) The actor should wear the same clothes, same hairstyle, and do the same exact audition so casting can show the producers what they saw and liked about the actor.

For a series regular role it takes much more time and is a much more involved process.

If it’s for a TV Series Regular role the casting process has additional steps – mixing and matching and testing with the Network. During the mixing and matching process, actors are paired in combinations to see who has the best fit and best chemistry. Then they go to a final audition process with the network itself called NETWORK TEST. The Executives at the Network hold a final round of auditions to see the final few candidates for each role and then decide who gets the Series Regular roles in their television shows.

The producers, writers and directors make the decision of who is cast, and often the Network has approval as well. 
For any role including a Series Regular role, there are many reasons an actor does, or does not get a role; 
1) the actor may have to fit in with the looks of a family, with other siblings.
2) they have to have good chemistry with the other actors who will make up the series.
3) the have to be likeable and get along well with the others who are being cast.
4)being ontime, every time and well prepared at all times is critical and part of being a professional (on time to me means 10 minutes early)
5) the director, producers or network execs could just take a disliking to an actor for whatever reason and send the actor home. It’s a personal preference. The actor could remind the Executive of the wife he is divorcing and arbitrarily dismiss the actor from the process. An actor will usually never know why they did not get a part. Side Note: Don’t expect your reps to get you feedback all the time. It’s a bother to casting. Once in awhile you may get feedback.

The Director is usually not involved in casting. Every production is different. Some will use the same director for multiple TV episodes so that person’s direction can really influence a shows tone.  But usually in television the executive producer, who is usually the head writer, is the biggest decision-maker in casting.

In film, it’s all about the Director’s vision. In television, it’s all about the Executive Producer’s vision.

Once the cast is assembled a Table Read is scheduled and everyone who is cast comes together to read through the script out loud so producers, writers and directors can hear how the project sounds as a whole. 

Then the re-wrting and shooting begins!

Well there you go….a peak into the world of casting.   Keep reading my blogs and continue to learn!

Keep shining, 

Talent Manager WAW Entertainment 
Facebook: wawentertainment
Twitter: @WAW_wendyalane


Wendy Alane Wright is a Hollywood talent manager and the president of WAW Entertainment. Her clients have appeared on television networks such as ABC, NBC, TNT, CBS, Comedy Central, BIO, Lifetime, and more. They have booked TV shows including “Modern Family,” “Blackish,” “Extant,” “The Colony,” “Animal Kingdom,” “My Haunted House,” and “Henry Danger,” as well as hundreds of commercials for major spots including Shutterfly, Mercedes, Visa, Taco Bell, Honda, Legos, Hot Wheels, and many more. Prior to being a manager and a talent agent at Burn Down Entertainment, Wright assisted many high profile managers, agents, and publicists. For 20 years she was a recording artist, actor, and music producer, and is now the author of five books called, “Secrets of a Hollywood Talent Manager.” Wright teaches the business of acting all over the country and is on the faculty of schools including the New York Studio for Stage and Screen in North Carolina and LA Acting Academy in Phoenix, Arizona. For years she has appeared in numerous magazines, and on radio shows and talk shows including “The Oprah Winfrey Show.”

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