Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Importance of Casting Directors

OCTOBER 11, 2012


It was one year ago that I had my first dental screening for oral cancer.  It was during my annual visit to the dentist to get my teeth cleaned.  I remember it as if it were yesterday - because of the nervousness of the dental hygienist.  One would thank they would learn to hide their concerns.  But, in my case, it wasn't true.  I could see it on her face that something was wrong.  Then my stomach dropped to the floor when she told me she was going to have to get the dentist because of an abnormality.  

What seemed like forever, was only five minutes.  Five minutes of pure hell only to be confirmed when I heard, "We found a white patch and we are sending you to a surgeon for a biopsy."  Those words are not only gut wrenching, but also everything around you goes into slow motion.  The words seem to echo forever in your head as fear and panic starts.  

Questions immediately went through my head.  "Do I tell my family?"  "What do I do now?"  "Can this really be happening to me?"  

From that point, until you get the results of the biopsy from the surgeon, you won't be able to eat, sleep, or enjoy anything until you hear the results.  There is nothing like it in the world.  For me, it was the wait and the not knowing.  Upon reflecting, I'd rather know immediately and told that I have cancer, than to wonder, whether or not I have it at all.  At least knowing, you begin to deal with the outcomes and the possibilities of treatments.

I'm one of the lucky ones.  If you call the removal of your four front teeth, bone grafts, implants, and numerous rejections of the implant teeth lucky.  But, yes lucky.  Why?  I was lucky enough that my husband cared enough to make sure that I got my dental screening and that my dentist insisted that all of her patients be screened for oral cancer.  She had already lost one patient to oral cancer, and she is hell bent on never losing another.  She told me,  "If only she accepted the screening for oral cancer."

My dentist lives with this.  In fact, I think she is over cautious, but in a good way.  She really cares about all of her patients.

I found out during my journey that oral cancer is usually terminal - you die.  Your only hope for survival is to catch it at the beginning stages.  If you don't, you will die.  Asking your dentist during your annual teeth cleaning can prevent this.  I can't help but think that if I had waited, or denied the screening, or postponed by dental cleaning, I wouldn't be writing this blog today.  Instead, my family and friends would be remembering me as the person I used to be and would also be living with the regret for not insisting that I get an oral cancer screening.

So, please, I urge everyone to not only go and get their annual dental check-ups, but while you there, ask for an oral cancer dental screening.  It is painless and non-invasive.  They simply look inside your mouth with some sort of laser/black light pen with a mirror to identify any abnormal patches.  The patches are usually white in nature and for me, I felt a certain roughness to the tissue area.  It wasn't visible to the eye.  It wasn't noticeable and wasn't painful.  Again, I was one of the lucky ones.  It was visible - YET.

However, if you can see a white patch with a visible eye, chances are it's too late.  

I was informed that my white patch was the size of a dime under the laser.  I couldn't see it at all.  They also said, if the white patch was any larger, or got to the size of a quarter, the prognosis would be terminal.  I was in the very, very, early stages.

Now for all of you that are reading this, I am a non-smoker.  I have never smoked.  So, smoking doesn't have anything to do with whether you get oral cancer or not.  However, smoking does increase your chances.  I do partake in adult beverages, especially red wine.  I don't over due it, but this too can be a contributor.

So, during the month of October, NATIONAL AWARENESS MONTH, please make your appointments and keep to them.  Also, woman, don't forget about checking for breast cancer as well.   And wear pink to help remind everyone what month this is.

And, men, you can't get off easy either.  You see, last year within two-weeks of my screening, my brother was diagnosed with prostrate cancer.  He is currently in Stage IV and going through chemotherapy.  Prostrate cancer is becoming more prevalent in men.  In fact, my husband's father died from prostrate cancer more than 26 years ago. 

On this note, my mother is a cancer survivor of 18 years.  She had lung cancer and the doctors caught it soon enough where they were able to remove the part of the cancerous lung.  Therefore, being diagnosed with cancer isn't always a death sentence.  This I know to be true.  

Please lift up every person that has cancer and their families and celebrate life with the survivors.  It's important.  It is also important to take your own personal responsibility by making the time to get  screened and encourage your loved ones to do the same.



Dr. Mel and Erin
Before the Gotye Concert
New Orleans!  If you missed the concert last night, of the group Gotye, you really missed an opportunity to listen to some fantastic music.  Now, I have to be honest with something.  I really didn't know who the group was either, but my daughter Erin did.  In fact, she is the one that helped bring Gotye to New Orleans with her constant calls to B97 FM for them to play their music.

According to Erin, she was in the airport in Santa Fe, New Mexico reading USA TODAY Living Section.  One of the articles was about an Australian group called Gotye.  Erin is a lover of music, so after reading the name of the group and the song, she instantly went to ITUNES and downloaded the song.  She was an instant fan and fell in love with it.  Upon her return to New Orleans, she called B97 FM and asked them to play the song.  She wanted everyone to know.  They had never heard of the song, much less the Australian group.  Low and behold, they played the song on air and later gave Erin a shout-out for bringing the song to their attention.

So, needless to say, when Goyte announced their concert tour was coming to New Orleans, Erin was quick on the phone to purchase tickets.  She also, signed up to the group's FACEBOOK site and left messages for Wally, front man of the group.  Her message, "I'll be at the concert tonight, and I'll be at your tour bus to meet you."  End of story.  NOT!

Erin and I are concert and Broadway Show buddies.  We have been attending concerts and shows together since she was ten years-old.  Her first concert was George Michael, third row front and center.  I thought she was going to faint when he came so close to her and shook his head and sweat splattered on her.  OMG!  Memories.  We have also seen some great performances including Pink Floyd and Elton John and numerous Broadway performances including Phantom of the Opera, Rent, Cats, and more.  But, last night it was her night to introduce me to Gotye.

Gotye rocked the concert.  Song after song was just as good as the other.  Erin was in her glory jus watching me enjoy a new musician she brought to me.  Then, the concert ended.  How sad.

Well, not exactly.  You see, Erin and I have a tradition and that is always to go to the area to meet the artists by the tour buses etc.  So, why break tradition now?  The only problem was the security guard.  That didn't stop this old grandmother groupie of The Rolling Stones as I showed her how to get past all of that.  I won't reveal my secret.  But, we were successful.  We got to the backstage area and she got to meet Wally.

What a "happening" ending!

I know that you probably have heard at least one of Goyte's songs, Somebody I used to Know.     I even knew this one.  His other songs are fantastic too.  Check out the group, like them on Facebook, and purchase their album.  You'll be addicted.  For more information and tour dates visit his website at: .

Dr. Mel after the Gotye concert with front man Wally, and Erin Gamvrogianis.  That's how we roll.  
ALSO CHECK OUT THE GOTYE VIDEO OF THE SONG SOMEONE I USED TO KNOW.  Listeners beware - you'll get addicted to his music.

Also, if you want to have fun on Sunday mornings, check out my knowledge on NFL football on THE SPORTS ZONE with Brian "The Hammer."

 By Dr. Melissa Caudle

Note:  Small excerpt from her upcoming book -  THUMBS UP!  How to Nail Auditions 
Contact Dr. Mel at to reserve your autographed copy.   

There isn’t anyone in the film and television industry who knows you better than you know yourself.  You may as well come to grips with that right now.  Otherwise, you just might find yourself losing out on a whole lot of professional acting work.

Simply put, there won’t be anyone who will work as hard as you to sell your product - you, the actor.  Yes, I really mean that.  Your agent will work hard, as that is how he or she makes their income.  Likewise, your manager will too.  However, they won’t be as committed to your acting career at the same level you are.  

There are many reasons.
  • They are committed to more than one actor.
  • They have other interests or high profile actors they push harder.
  • They only concentrate on one market, e.g., only casting opportunities in their state    and not nationwide.
  • There could be another actor with similar features and abilities that has more acting experience that they push harder than you.
  • They may believe in you, but you aren’t getting booked so they don’t push you as hard.
  • They don’t like your initial head shots and you haven’t updated your information.
  •  They concentrate on another area in the business, such as print work, and not so much on film or television.
Therefore, get ready to take control of your future and don’t sit around complaining that your agent or manager don't send you out on auditions.  In more than one case it isn’t their fault.  The reason could be looking at you in the mirror each morning when you brush your teeth because they can’t submit you, the product, because the product (actor they represent) doesn’t have the marketing tools to support submissions.  

This all goes back to finger-pointing.  When you point a finger at someone to blame there are three more pointing back at you.  Remember that as you prepare to “Nail your auditions.”  Take control and take responsibility for your audition and the audition process.

The first things to take control of are your marketing tools, or in this case, your entry items into the acting profession.  All marketing tools require money.  Money that is usually hard to come by.  It’s not cheap getting into the acting field, so consider the money spent on as an investment.  You can’t sell yourself unless you have your marketing tools.  That’s a given in this industry.

Marketing tools for an actor include:
  •          Resume – a clean a professional look according to industry standards.
  •          Head shots (different styles) – no snapshots.  Professional head shots only.
  •          Demo Reels (different genres) – use current footage and put your best work first.   
  •          Business Cards with your head shot – professionally printed if possible.
  •          Website – clean, fresh, current, that features you.
  •          Blog or Podcast – suggested, but not mandatory.  
Graphic by On the Lot Productions, LLC  Copyright Protected 2012
Note:  Thumbs up!  How to Nail Auditions will be available on, Barnes & Noble, and Books A Million in November 2012. 

By Dr. Melissa Caudle

Never under estimate the power of the casting director.  They are your allies and the gatekeeper into film and television projects that you want to be a part of.  Therefore, as a professional in the film industry, whether producer or actor, you should make it your goal to meet as many casting directors as possible.  Why?  The answer is two-fold.

First, as a producer, we want the best talent to portray our characters in the film.  It takes time and a lot of energy to locate the perfect cast member.  A casting director, having cast numerous projects in your area, already has a broad range of talent to pool from that he or she has already cast in the past or auditioned in the past.  Sometimes, a simple conversation with them when trying to locate the perfect actor for a specific role, they will reveal them to you.

As an actor, you want to know them because they are your ticket into the door on the projects you want.  You might not be perfect for a role now, but someday, if you made a strong impression, they will remember you.  Who knows, it might lead to a role of a lifetime someday.

Secondly, a casting director is always on top of the industry in your area.  It's their job to stay up-to-date and to know what productions are green-light, who is hiring, and where the roles are.  In essence, casting directors are in the same position as actors - they too are seeking to be hired for a film or television project.  The only difference, they have to impress the producers with their skill and talent to cast actors.  

I have on several occasions worked on Sony film projects where the executive producer or director asked me my opinion on specific casting directors in my area.  They relied on my expertise, knowledge, and previous experience to make the recommendation.  Without having taken the time to get to know the casting directors in my area, I would have never been able to recommend one over the other.

With that said, how to do go about meeting casting directors in your area?  Follow these tips and you will likely increase your social networking list of casting directors.

  • Attend open auditions, as many as possible and introduce yourself to the casting director.
  • Attend workshops offered by casting directors in your area.  Essentially, you will have to pay to participate and there will likely be 20 to 30 other actors included as well as yourself.  However, you will have an opportunity to perform a scene with another actor.  Most workshops provide the scenes for you; therefore, hone up on your cold read skills.  The last thing you will want is to perform a scene and do a poor job.  They will remember that too.  As a result, I strongly recommend that new actors stay away from this until they have taken classes with a seasoned acting coach and have had plenty of practice performing in front of a group.
  • If a casting director publishes an article or was a guest on a television show, send them a handwritten note telling them how much you enjoyed it.  But, also include something specific or quote they made that either helped you are you took to heart.  The key is to make it personable.  And, why you are doing it, AVOID the temptation to say, "I'm available if you should need me," or "I look forward to meeting you and working with you someday."  This isn't the time nor place.  You'll be remembered more by not pointing out those things and keeping the personal note, personal and focused on them and not you.
  • Do showcases where you know casting directors are going to be in attendance.
  • Attend social networking events for films in your area.
  • Contact your local SAG/AFTRA office and ask them if they know about any casting director events.  The key is to stay informed and in the loop.

Of special note, when you meet a casting director, start a list of contacts and your own database.  That way, you know who you need to introduce yourself too.  

Auditioning 411

By Jack E. Curenton
Casting Director

What does a Casting Director look for when you come in to audition?   In three words:
  • Presence
  • Poise
  • Purpose.

Presence:  Do you command the scene and take control of your environment?

Commanding your scene means simply knowing the character, the back story to make them believable to where they fill the space with reality and KNOWING YOUR LINES.
Sometimes that last one is more difficult. Especially if it’s a cold read…but if it’s not…there is no excuse for not being ready! We Don’t Plan to Fail…We Just Fail To Plan! Stop that or get into a different vocation…because if you don’t your life will be filled with disappointment and heartbreak.

How many times have you left an audition and felt like you left something out? That means you didn’t take it into the room to begin with. Always have more ammo than you need for your performance, keeping it available to pull out if your performance is coming up short and the CD is asking you to go in a different direction. But….know when to use only what is necessary to get the job done…then STOP. Don’t over act yourself out of the part; but, as we say in theatre, “Leave it all on the boards”

Poise: I equate that to confidence in your ability to portray that character in a believable fashion.

OWN IT!! By that I mean, you should be able to relate to the angst-empathy-pain-joy-sorry-happiness of the moment and make it real for the CD and all who are watching you. Rule #1: ACTING ISN’T. If you’re “Acting” it usually comes across as Over Acting, by using gimmicks…raised eyebrows, overt out-of-place gestures, looonnnggg pauses . . . between . . . your . . . delivery! You don’t do that in real life, why would you think it necessary for this character because those are even more exaggerated when viewed on the bigger screen when those involved in casting review your performance.

Take your audition for A.D.A.M., Keystroke Killer or whatever and watch it on your big screen TV….can you see the slump in your shoulders and the insecure look of terror in your eyes as you try to remember your lines? It might not have shown up across the room…but it sure is HUGE during the reviewing process on that screen.

Purpose:   As in What Is Your Purpose?

I’m not referring to the desire to get paid for this gig! I mean that you have come into the scene from another “Event” in the storyline and you are heading on to the next “Event” after your part of the story is played out in the audition . . . with a Purpose! Your audition needs continuity. Dr. Mel has said, “Act through your audition.” In other words, don’t drop out of character when you’re finished with the scene. You must drive the motion and emotions in the scene and they must feel “Purposeful” to you and those watching.

Purpose Defined:

  1. The reason for which something exists or is done, made, used, etc.
  2. An intended or desired result; end; aim; goal.
  3. Determination; resoluteness.

So the next time you have an audition, try to remember the 3P’s…Presence, Poise & Purpose. 

If you do….you just might learn the 4th one…. em-”P”-loyment!

By Robby Cook Stroud

For your convenience I have assembled some of the best casting directors in Lousiana for you.  This is my no means a complete list, but it is a great start.  You need to start your own list and keep it updated.  Next week, I'll post some of the best in Los Angeles.

AGH Casting Agency

Phone: 2257330121    Email:        

Caballero Casting

Brent Caballero
c/o Second Line Stages 800 Richard Street
New Orleans, LA 70130
Phone: 5043424945            Email:

Coulon Casting, Inc.

Elizabeth Coulon
2926 Canal Street, 2nd Floor
New Orleans, LA 70119
Phone: 504-569-0683        Fax: 888-290-5882          Email: 

Glorioso Casting, LLC

Phone: 318-751-9140        Email:

Jaime Harlan Casting

Jaime Harlan
Phone: 323 836 2818          Email:              


KeShuna Jones-Lee
Phone: 504-835-7024     Cell: 985-992-0109        Fax: 504-835-7024           

LaTanya Potts Casting

600 Common St
Shreveport, LA 71101
Phone: 318-550-3976         Email:          
Morgan Casting Inc.
Matthew Morgan
821 Dauphine Street
New Orleans, LA 70116
Phone: 504-206-8899          Email:

RPM Casting

Meagan Lewis  Second Line Stages, 800 Richard St., Suite 225
New Orleans , LA 70130    Phone: (504)2242278    Email:    Website:
The Casting Office, Inc.
Tracy Kilpatrick
2 Santa Ana Avenue
Jefferson, LA 70121
Phone: 504.812.5552         Cell: 910.264.2255    Email:
Tommy Staub
Phone: 3185103016    


Okay, since starting our journey on KSK we have done some crazy things.  We have submitted auditions, waited on pins and needles, held the first-time ever after the audition wrap parties, and held a variety of off the wall and record contests from claiming calendar months to worse hairstyles.  I think I won the 1980's hair style and without a doubt Bobbie Lee won, my calendar pick for Mr. Everything.  And, now the winner of the official KSK HAT Contest is the one and only CHALLA SABREE.  GO CHALLA AND HATS OFF TO YOU BUDDY FOR THE BEST HAT VIDEO TOO.  Check it out.  Just click on the Hats Off picture below.

By Robby Stroud
Hot off the presses today is the announcement by IM Glogal and Daniel Dubiecki's The Allegiance Theater that Jodie Foster has been attached to direct a new film called Money Monster, a drama about Lee Gates, a TV personality whose insider trading tips made him the money guru of Wall Street.  However, when a viewer lost all of his money on a bad tip from Lee, he holds him hostage on the air.  The nation tunes in to the hostage situation.
Production for Money Monster is set to begin filming in early 2013 and they are going to immediately start casting.  Start you research now, to find out who is casting and also alert your agent to the fact so they may be on the look out.  It is my understanding, they want to cast the project fast and furious.
The USA comedy pilot series Sirens, has cast all lead roles but are currently seeking supporting actors. Again, contact your agent to be submitted for the project.

Actorfest LA is taking place on Saturday, November 6 at the California Market Center in downtown L.A. You must pre-register so sign up today.

Actorfest is a FREE event with a $35 fee for workshops (package deals available). SAG members get 15% off their workshops with the promo code SAG15. For more information and to register please visit

Take advantage of these special opportunities for union members only:

Casting Opportunity

NBC AUDITIONS (union talent – SAG or AFTRA members only)
Males and females who can play ages 18 to 45; all ethnicity's. Bring a current SAG or AFTRA card in order to sign up for the NBC auditions.

Union-Only Focus Sessions
These high level one-hour sessions allows individual casting directors to share their personal approaches to the work and offer advice on getting called in and called back. So come armed with your headshot/resume and best questions! SAG, AFTRA and Equity members only.

#1 with Casting Director Mark Teschner
10:00-11:00 AM
Mark Teschner, Casting Director, “General Hospital”

#2 with Casting Director Chadwick Struck
11:30 AM-12:30 PM
Chadwick Struck, Casting Director, “Finding Bliss,” “Lower Learning,” “Smother”

#3 with Casting Director April Webster
1:00-2:00 PM April Webster, Casting Director, "Star Trek," "2012," "Mission: Impossible III" TV: "Lost," "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation," "Alias," "Criminal Minds," "Leverage," "Dark Blue"

#4 with Casting Director Jason Kennedy
2:30-3:30 PM
Jason Kennedy, Casting Director, “NCIS,” “The Dresden Files,” “Dawson’s Creek,” ” Cursed,” “PU-239,” “A Little Thing Called Murder,” “Elizabethtown”

#5 with Casting Director John Frank Levey
4:00-5:00 PM
John Frank Levey, Casting Director, “ER,” “Southland”