30 seconds with Casting Director Jo Hawes

Recipient of the Special Recognition Olivier Award 2020, Jo is the leading children’s casting director and administrator in the UK, who has worked on many large-scale West End and touring shows including Oliver!, Mary Poppins, Les Miserables, Billy Elliot at Curve Leicester, Identical and The Drifters Girl. She is also the author of CHILDREN IN THEATRE – a book about having a performing child in the family.

Tell us a bit about your background and how you came to your career as a casting director?
I was a stage manager initially then I worked for various theatre offices. 27 years ago I started casting the children for Oliver! at the London Palladium.

How important are self-tapes in casting for children do you use them or are your auditions always in person?
I do not very often use self-tapes preferring to see the children in person or increasingly on zoom for first rounds.

What can a performer expect when they are invited to a casting with you?
Courtesy! And a lot of fun.

Are there any now big names out there that you discovered?
Eddie Redmayne, Tom Fletcher, Carrie Fletcher, Luke Sheppard , Zizi Strallen.

How do you prefer parents/guardians getting in touch with you?
By email – usually through my website but if they have an agent they must ask them to contact me.

In your opinion how best can parents/guardians support children that want to in the entertainment business?
By being led by their children and not being pushy.

What’s the most bizarre thing that’s ever happened while in the audition room?
Many things! Whilst casting a show years ago a child came 3 times on the same day in different clothes expecting that we wouldn’t notice.