ABC has dominated television for over 67 years. With a magical Disney touch (and a little bit of pixie dust), the network consistently launches the careers of industry professionals. ABC Casting is the agile operation behind all the success. With offices in LA and NYC, the department has elevated countless actors to prominence and continues to cultivate an ever-changing flow of new and diverse talents.
Laura Janeczko, a Casting Assistant for ABC’s NY office, is at the heart of it all. She exists in the frenzied world that acts as a precursor to production and thrives on assisting to make great TV. Janeczko paused from her duties to deliver some essential advice for performers and people aspiring to break into the casting business (should we call them “Casters”?)…
RP: So, how did you primarily get into Casting?
LJ: I got my first experiences with casting when I directed some projects in college. I realized that I liked the auditioning and casting process, and that I had somewhat of a knack for it. So after graduating I worked a little bit with Heidi Eklund of Hudson Valley Casting before starting as an intern at ABC Casting.
RP: What do you love most about the process and your journey thus far with ABC?
LJ: I really enjoy what I do here! What I love most about my journey thus far is probably the opportunities I've had to learn. Every day might present a new set of challenges - scheduling issues, last minute sessions, etc - so every day could be another chance for me to create solutions. I also learn so much from everyone else in my office - it's been such a great environment to learn and grow in.
RP: Besides in person auditions, how active, would you say, do Casting Directors scout out talent?
LJ: Everyone in our office is always going to a variety of performances around the city - Broadway, off-Broadway, comedy shows, showcases, you name it. We're always excited to see fresh faces that we didn't know before!
RP: Do you find that "unknown actors" can make it in the door? Or is it more about having connections and a big time agent?
LJ: I can only really speak for our office, but if we know and love an actor, we will bring them in for appropriate roles regardless of whether they have a 'big time agent'. Connections help, but there are ways to build them - every project you work on or class you take gives you a new set of connections.
RP: What do you suggest actors do to get themselves out there?
LJ: Act as often as possible! Go out for things, but don't hesitate to do projects with friends as well to build up your reel and keep yourself acting (/writing/directing/etc.). There are also some good classes out there that actors can take. I think that the more you involve yourself with the acting community here, the more likely you are to build connections with fellow actors / filmmakers, and the more likely that your work and effort will be seen!
RP: Do you think it's important to "type" yourself as an actor?
LJ: Nope! I think it's important to know yourself as a person and an actor, but not to put yourself into strict boxes in terms of what kind of character you definitely could or couldn't play. Let the people on the other end decide whether they see you as something and want to bring you in for it!
RP: What is the biggest mistake that you find actors make in the audition room?
LJ: Not being fearless. Go in there and give it your all - even if it's not your role, the Casting Director is more likely to remember you if you gave a fearless audition.
RP: What do you find really impresses in the room?
LJ: Making imaginative choices - things that could only come from you and no one else. People on the other side need to see what you'd bring to a role.
RP: Generally, what do Casting Directors like to see on a resume?
LJ: A good representation of your skill set - if you can sing put your range, if you dance list what types of dance you're familiar with. You never know when a role will call for a specific skill in your wheelhouse!
RP: What’s your advice for people looking to break into casting?
LJ: The tough thing is that colleges don't really offer classes on casting, but an internship is a great way to start learning the ins and outs and begin building relationships. Keep yourself knowledgeable about talent by seeing shows, watching series, etc. Let your passion for it come through in your interviews and work your way up from there!
RP: On the other end, what would you say is you most valuable piece of encouragement for aspiring actors?
LJ: Do your research and be prepared when you go in for a role - know the terminology and be memorized. Then, when you're in the room (if you're going in for a role on TV that has an arc) don't forget to have fun with it and show us who you are!