Actors Expo is just around the corner with a jam-packed schedule, including Meals 4 Monologues, an opportunity for actors to perform for CSA casting directors and Agents. Meals for Monologues is accessible worldwide, and actors can register to perform live in London, or opt for an online slot in front of US casting directors and Agents via our virtual event platform Whova.
This amazing open casting call is a chance for actors to receive feedback from industry professionals while supporting food banks in the UK & USA. Donations from performers to support a food drive is encouraged and will support the Trussell Trust and Feeding America.
Please be mindful that applying online does not guarantee you a Meals 4 Monologues slot, and we will contact you if you have been selected. Successful performers will be notified on Wednesday February 1st 2023, and only those contacted and given a specific time slot will be seen. Please note this is a random allocation. If selected, you will need to prepare a 1-minute contemporary monologue or song that showcases you as a performer.
It is perfectly normal to have some questions before a casting, but don’t worry, as we spoke to two top Casting Directors, UK-based Olissa Rogers and US Based Danielle Pretsfelder Demchick to put your mind at ease.
Olissa began her career casting mainly for TV series in Germany in 2008 where she worked for eight years. In 2016 Olissa met casting director Jeremey Zimmerman, becoming his casting assistant for several films, and later assisted Kharmel Cochrane. In 2019, Olissa was approached by Theo Park and came on board as her associate, where she was involved in casting major TV projects such as Ted Lasso. Since then, Olissa has worked as a casting associate to Amy Hubbard and after Fiona Weir. Olissa now works as a freelance Casting Director, and her credits include Brassic, the Outlaws, and Netflix’s smash hit Wednesday.
Danielle began in the casting industry in 2004, and after almost 15 years at Nickelodeon as its Director of Talent and Casting launched her own casting company. Danielle is a champion of inclusive casting and working with under-represented communities. Danielle’s credits include SpongeBob DocuPants, Dora the Explorer, and the Astronauts. Olissa and Danielle have years of insight and experience and kindly shared their expert advice.
What kind of piece/song should I choose?
Danielle: Stay true to your marketability and the type of roles you are hoping to be cast for, as you are never sure who is on the panel and could be subject to change, so the safest bet is to go in with something that shows range. When choosing an established piece, don’t pick something that is too overdone or is associated with a particular actor. For example, I feel the When Harry met Sally monologue gets overdone, so choosing something the casting director has not seen a thousand times is a more creative choice.
Olissa: Select something that showcases your greatest skills and acting range. Also pick something that casting directors can believe is a part you could play.
Should I perform something I have written myself?
Danielle: I would steer away from something that is a work in progress, but feel free to do something if you believe it is really strong, especially if your hope is to be writing your own material.
Olissa: This is always something we love, so go for it, as we believe in it the most when it is self-written.
What should I wear for a casting?
Danielle: Keep it casual and avoid patterns that are too busy and logos. Pick a colour that you feel looks good on you and not a costume, so if you are auditioning for a part of a nun, you definitely don’t need to wear a habit.
Olissa: Come in whatever you feel comfortable in; there is no right or wrong, just as long as it doesn’t distract from the acting. Don’t come in wearing the costume of the character, but instead, if it’s a period piece, then you could select a skirt that reflects something from that era a bit more.
Should I have a backup piece/song?
Olissa: For Meals 4 Monologues it is not necessary.
Should I shake the casting director’s hand when I enter and leave the room?
Danielle: Being back in person right now is a pretty big deal, so my advice to an actor is only extend your hand if somebody extends it to you. We will feel awkward if we don’t shake your hand, but many people are still not comfortable doing it.
Olissa: I advise you to read the room and the vibe because everybody has a different way of working, so if you can sense that it’s something they don’t want then just let it be.
Is it ok to go over the recommended time limit?
Olissa: If a time limit has been set, then it’s best to stick to it. If the piece/song is longer, then cut down the parts that are not relevant.
What advice would you give for online auditions?
Danielle: Test your equipment before so you don’t have to update your Zoom when you log in, and make sure that your eyeline and framing is aligned. If you are using somebody else’s account, then double-check that it’s your full name on display and not theirs.
Olissa: Be mindful of not too much movement, and with regards to eyeline, it’s best to ask the casting director beforehand. We would say whatever is comfortable for the actor, but it’s always good to double-check. If there is anything else that is unclear, always feel free to ask, there is no harm in asking, and we always have time to answer questions regarding technology or where to stand etc.
Where should I focus my eye contact during my audition?
Danielle: Usually, you want to look just a little bit above, so slightly above the casting director’s eyeline.
Olissa: This depends on the piece, but it can be slightly above our heads or directly to the panel, but we have had people looking at every individual on the panel or using just one person. If you want to use a person on the panel, then I would ask if it’s okay to use them as an eyeline. There has never been an occasion where we have ever said no.
What should I do if I mess up my lines/song?
Danielle: Just keep going! If it’s at the very start of the piece/song and you have brain-freeze, then it’s fine to ask to take a moment and start again, but if you are mid-way through, I recommend always keeping going. Nobody knows every piece word-for-word, and even if they do, they won’t be thrown off by a few mistakes. Keep driving forward, as that is what we want to see, and the show must go on.
Olissa: There is no problem with asking if you can start again,
If I don’t get re-directed or receive any feedback does that mean the panel didn’t like me?
Danielle: Not at all! In this business, there is no formula that lets you know if you did a good job or not, so leave all that in the room and have fun. Some casting directors like to give directions to every actor while others don’t. Others will fall somewhere in between, but don’t read too much into it.
Olissa: No, it could mean that it was exactly how they liked it and wouldn’t have done it any differently. If they redirect you, then it’s just to see what else you can do. Sometimes, we don’t need to see more because it was good enough the first time. If we do give directions, it’s because we like what you did and want to see it done a bit differently.
Go in and have fun. Casting Directors are people too, and we want to see you enjoying yourself and know that when you leave the room, it is a win no matter what happens. Remember that we hold onto actors’ information, I’ve called actors a few years after I first met them, and they are always surprised that I’ve remembered them, but it’s my job to remember.
Just have fun. It’s a workshop-type opportunity for us to see new talent and a chance to get to know everybody. It’s a very lovely and kind panel, and we are not going to be mean, so don’t worry. Take on board the feedback and remember nothing is right or wrong. We want to see what you can do with your skills to help us understand what we think you could work on, so just enjoy it.
Congratulations to all the actors who secured a Meals 4 Monologues slot this year!
This is an incredible opportunity to get in front of CSA casting directors and show them what you’ve got. Please remember this is also a chance to give back to the community, so don’t forget to donate to either: UK Donations – US Donations.
Finally, whilst you are at our event both in-person and online remember to check out our seminars and exhibitors, and most importantly, have fun and fully utilise all that Actors Expo offers.