What Casting Directors Want From You: The Cheryl Sequel

My inbox has been completely flooded over the last week with tons of emails about my sit down with Cheryl. 

I was planning an extended series, down the road, because she revealed so much info. In light of your overwhelming requests, I decided to do a sequel quite a bit sooner than planned. 

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been an avid note taker. While sitting down with Cheryl for about an hour and a half, I filled an entire notebook. 

There’s so much to sort through, that I haven’t even reviewed everything but I wanted to bring you what I thought was most important. 

See, Cheryl revealed one priceless piece of information after another, so it was incredibly difficult to keep up. 

Here is what she said about what Casting Directors want to see from you right now… 

“Sometimes, this town sucks! It’s like almost everyone is projecting something. I saw a Ralph’s store manager [wearing the uniform and name tag] putting $10 of gas in a new model 7 series BMW. Why is that? 

Obviously he was trying to impress someone but who cares? Who does he think he’s fooling and why didn’t he at least remove the name tag? You get this better than anyone I know [speaking to me]. At the end of the day, the industry is about people. 

If you’re a diva, word gets around and the bookings will stop. If you work hard, you can leapfrog people that are more talented than you…” 

This sort of philosophical rant went on for a few minutes, before Cheryl returned to make the point I was waiting for on pins and needles. 

She said “Casting Directors, Producers, Actors are all people, and people are driven by status. I don’t want to cast an actor that fits the mold of what they are supposed to be. I want to cast someone that I can point to and say I found her. I want to cast someone that can play the role, yes, but I am mainly looking for the X factor in someone. 

I was one of the first people to have Anne Hathaway read. X factor like nobody’s business.” 

Cheryl went on to describe that X factor in a few different ways but it mainly came down to “the inability to look away.” 

That begs the question…how do you develop that X factor? 

It’s not something that you’re born with, you can absolutely develop it with practice. 

People go about this in several different ways: think Lady Gaga in her early days. 

Compare that to Elon Musk, who also captivates and holds your attention but for a different reason. One is a train wreck and not the route that makes sense in an audition environment. 

The reason that Elon Musk can grab your attention is that you can feel his confidence. It’s palpable. 

Moreover, it’s like he is listening to you even in a room with a thousand other people. You get the feeling that if you were having a one on one conversation, he would hang on your every word. 

When actors go into an audition, they tend to portray the exact opposite of that. Their nerves are showing, they fumble with their sleeves or fiddle with their hair out of obvious anxiety. They don’t even hold eye contact with the Casting Director. 

These are all things that break rapport and give off the impression that you are nervous because you have something to lose. 

So if you really want to nail the audition, you have to remove the risk of losing something. 

If everything is dependent on the outcome of your next audition you will have a problem with the X factor. 

You need to make sure that your schedule is jam packed with so many auditions, that not a single one of them can make you or break you. 

Of course, Cheryl had something to say about that… 

“For the last 11 or 12 years it’s happened to me about once a month. I love to watch people, so if you want to find me, I’m usually out on a patio somewhere. Without fail, someone recognizes me and approaches me. 

They are usually incredibly polite people, and they are very smart. Who in the world recognizes a Casting Director? Not just anyone! If someone recognizes me, I know that they are serious about acting. 

It doesn’t make much sense because it should happen every day. If CDs hold the keys to your future in the industry, those are the people you should get to know. 

Research them, stalk them even. After a while, most of us will turn around and ask who you are why in the world we see you everywhere. We love people, remember?” 

She went on to say “the ones that approach me, I will always find something for. If I don’t have anything, I know someone I can force them onto. It’s not flattery or my ego that does that. It’s the person’s obvious work ethic to take the time and find out about who it is that is making the decisions about their future.” 

Here’s a tough question… 

How many Casting Directors have you looked into? They’re not hiding. They’re not even hard to get a hold of. You can pick up the phone and reach a good number of them, if you just try. I know from first hand experience. 

You first have to get on their radar, have them waiting in anticipation to meet you, and then have the X factor when you meet them, and you’re set. 

If that seems like a lot to do, you’re only psyching yourself out. 

The easiest way to make 2 of the 3 happen is here.

Cheryl mentioned it multiple times and I went into detail about it in last week’s release. “IMDb is the industry’s measure of credibility…” 

She mentioned how she and her colleagues spend a ton of time researching actors on IDMb and often make casting decisions based on what they find. 

If you’ve never had someone contact you through IMDb and invite you to read, it’s because you’re not using IDMb to it’s full potential. Here’s how to fix that quickly.

For many of you, IMDb is just something that is. It’s there, it does what it does. End of story. 

For others, it’s the engine that drives their career. Will it be what gets you a golden statue? 

Not likely. 

Will it open the doors that send you down that path? 

Stop speculating and find out instead.

See you at the top,