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Travis Fimmel of ‘Raised By Wolves’: “I’m the Worst Auditioner Ever”

Travis Fimmel of ‘Raised By Wolves’: “I’m the Worst Auditioner Ever”

Hate auditioning? Think you’re terrible at them? You’re not alone. Actor Travis Fimmel, star of such shows as The Vikings and films like Warcraft, totally understands how you feel. 

“I’m the worst auditioner ever known to man,” he tells Casting Networks.  “I cannot get out in front of people to talk to them. I think it’s very terrifying.”

The one-time Calvin Klein model, who made his first foray into acting in the title role on the short-lived 2003 series Tarzan, says he’d “be happy never to audition” again. Luckily, it appears he’s now getting to that point in his career. 

The Australian native currently stars in Ridley Scott’s new HBO Max sci-fi series Raised by Wolves, playing a high-ranking officer of an army fighting an intergalactic war between religious humans and atheist androids harboring human children. It’s a role that did not require him to audition. 

“I was very fortunate with this,” he explains. “I got to meet with Ridley, we spoke for an hour and half, and then I pretty much signed the contract. His storyboards, the way he described the story and his vision for it was so seductive. There was no way I could say no. Working with Ridley Scott is an amazing experience.”

Fimmel says that due to his nerves during in-person auditions, he tends to do mostly self-tapes. He estimates that 95 percent of the acting jobs he’s earned came from this submission type.

“Everybody’s different,” he says. “For me, I can’t do a speech in front of anybody. I can’t even read out loud in a class because I get too nervous. I just want to get out of the room.”

The actor feels the best thing casting directors can do for actors who get nervous like him is to have a reader in the room who is an actual actor, not another associate. 

“An actor reading with you can make you more comfortable because you can concentrate on a person who is not judging you,” Fimmel explains. “When you’re reading to a casting agent, sometimes you think, ‘Do they like me?’ ‘Do they like the way I’m reading to them?’ It’s helpful for me, as an actor, to have another actor there.”

Interestingly enough, Fimmel says he never gets nervous during shoots, because those around him are not necessarily focused on his acting on set. Even though they may be looking at him, they could be focused on his clothing, or a prop behind him, depending on what production department they work in. “But as soon as there is a live audience sitting in front of me, I crumble like a little child.”

However, he does credit certain casting directors in his career who have made the audition process bearable for him. 

“There are a couple that I really love and who have been so great to me,” he says, citing casting director Mary Vernieu as one example. She cast Fimmel in 2016’s Warcraft and 2012’s  The Baytown Outlaws

“They understand you, they get what you’re good at, and get what you want to be. They understand your mentality and bring you in for the right stuff. They don’t force the wrong stuff.”

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Path to the Emmy Awards: Paul Mescal

Path to the Emmy Awards: Paul Mescal

Perhaps you’re one of the many who’ve enjoyed the breakout Hulu limited series Normal People. You might be a fan of Paul Mescal, the actor who portrays its lead character Connell. You may even follow @connellschain on Instagram, which at the time of publishing has more than 180,000 followers. You read that right — the character’s signature accessory has even inspired its own Instagram account, one with a significant following. The popularity of Normal People and its stars has reached impressive heights, which has come with critical acclaim, as well. Mescal received his first-ever Emmy nomination for his work as Connell, and we’re going to take a look at what led up to it in this installment of Path to the Emmy Awards

 

When the term “overnight success” is used on an actor experiencing their breakthrough role, said actor has oftentimes been working in the industry for a number of years. It normally takes time plus a lot of small roles to build up to the job that puts you on the map. Not so with Mescal. The 24-year-old Irish actor shot to stardom with Normal People, which also happens to be his first TV role. It’s not his first time appearing on camera, though. Mescal shared during an interview with Elle UK that his inaugural paid acting job was a commercial last year. “People still recognize me from a sausage advert,” he added. “It keeps me grounded.” 

 

But how did the young thespian jump from starring in a sausage commercial to Hulu’s on-screen adaptation of Sally Rooney’s New York Times bestselling novel. Let’s start at the beginning. Mescal’s father was also an actor, but he shared during an interview with the SAG-AFTRA Foundation that he didn’t catch the bug until snagging the lead, titular role in a school production of The Phantom of the Opera. But he still considered other career paths. “I almost joined the army at 16,” Mescal told Elle UK. “But my love for Gaelic football and acting kept me in Ireland.” And just like Connell, Mescal also attended Trinity College. While earning his Bachelor of Acting there, he gathered stage credits such as Much Ado About Nothing and Children of the Sun

 

After graduating from university, Mescal performed in theater productions around Ireland, as well as London, adding titles like Angela’s Ashes and The Great Gatsby to his stage acting resume. Then came the audition notice for Normal People. When asked during the SAG-AFTRA Foundation interview if he’d done much auditioning for film and television leading up to that point, Mescal answered that he hadn’t done a “huge amount.” And while his on-camera experience is also limited, the actor pointed out that the basic tenets of acting transcend the medium. “My theory is that the fundamentals are still the same,” Mescal noted. “It’s about understanding your character’s background, where they are at that specific moment, and what they’re trying to communicate to themselves or to the people in the scene.” 

 

The breakout star is remaining tight-lipped about what’s up next for him, although he recently checked off another milestone in his on-camera career. That is, Mescal was tapped to star in The Rolling Stones’ new music video “Scarlet.” You’ll have to wait until the Emmy Awards on September 20, though, to see if he can add a win for Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie to his collection of memorable moments that have come from this year. “You are one of those rare people who I think is having a pretty good 2020,” Variety’s Jenelle Riley quipped during her  interview with Mescal. And regardless of if he takes home a statuette from this year’s Emmy Awards, Mescal has had quite the whirlwind journey getting to them. 

 

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Casting Director Jeff Greenberg Weighs in on Lead Acting Emmy Nominees

Casting Director Jeff Greenberg Weighs in on Lead Acting Emmy Nominees

Considering their area of expertise, casting directors have a special perspective on Emmy nominations within the acting categories. And with long-running series credits such as Frasier and Modern Family to his name, casting director Jeff Greenberg knows a thing or two about television, in particular. Greenberg took time from his schedule to share with us his top picks from within the lead acting categories of this year’s impressive roster of Emmy nominees.

Nominees for Lead Actor in a Comedy Series

Anthony Anderson (Black-ish)

Don Cheadle (Black Monday)

Eugene Levy (Schitt’s Creek)

Michael Douglas (The Kominsky Method)

Ramy Youssef (Ramy

Ted Danson (The Good Place)

Greenberg’s Pick: 

Eugene Levy 

“I was so impressed with Ramy Youssef’s nuanced work this season, but because the category is comedy, I like to give more points to a performance that features the funny. I never stopped laughing at Eugene Levy’s hilarious and inventive Johnny Rose.” 

 

Nominees for Lead Actress in a Comedy Series 

Catherine O’Hara (Schitt’s Creek)

Christina Applegate (Dead to Me)

Issa Rae (Insecure)

Linda Cardellini (Dead to Me)

Rachel Brosnahan (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel)

Tracee Ellis Ross (Black-ish) 

Greenberg’s Pick: 

Issa Rae 

“This is a very strong category this year. I think Rachel Brosnahan can do no wrong on her show and I’ve voted for her in the past, but Issa Rae’s work has gotten better and better. She always seems to find something extra in the text that makes it funny on so many levels.” 

 

Nominees for Lead Actor in a Drama Series: 

Billy Porter (Pose)

Brian Cox (Succession)

Jason Bateman (Ozark) 

Jeremy Strong (Succession)

Sterling K. Brown (This Is Us)

Steve Carell (The Morning Show) 

Greenberg’s Pick: 

Billy Porter 

“Every actor in this category is so award-worthy, but the two that kept resonating for me afterward were Billy Porter and Jeremy Strong. Both roles allowed them to show such enormous range. In a coin toss, I’ll go with Billy Porter.” 

 

Nominees for Lead Actress in a Drama Series: 

Jennifer Aniston (The Morning Show)

Jodie Comer (Killing Eve)

Laura Linney (Ozark)

Olivia Colman (The Crown)

Sandra Oh (Killing Eve)

Zendaya (Euphoria) 

Greenberg’s Pick: 

Jennifer Aniston

“For me, this is the strongest category of choices, as I loved every single performance, but it’s a no-brainer for me to choose Jennifer Aniston. I remember watching and just being so blown away to see her in a completely different light. She was a revelation; maybe my favorite work of hers since Friends.” 

 

Nominees for Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie: 

Hugh Jackman (Bad Education)

Jeremy Irons (Watchmen)

Jeremy Pope (Hollywood)

Mark Ruffalo (I Know This Much Is True)

Paul Mescal (Normal People) 

Greenberg’s Pick: 

Mark Ruffalo

“I was fascinated by Paul Mescal’s stellar work, which was so simple and so raw, but Mark Ruffalo was beyond impressive playing these complex twin brothers who were polar opposites of each other. The physical transformation and the chemistry that somehow happened between each side of the fraternal dichotomy was as good as it gets.” 

 

Nominees for Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie: 

Cate Blanchett (Mrs. America)

Kerry Washington (Little Fires Everywhere)

Octavia Spencer (Self Made)

Regina King (Watchmen)

Shira Haas (Unorthodox) 

Greenberg’s Pick: 

Shira Haas

“There’s something about seeing a fresh face in a challenging role that is so mesmerizing, not knowing the actor’s wheelhouse or even their other work for context. The depth of Shira Haas’ performance was profound. I had never seen a show like Unorthodox nor an actor like Shira.” 

 

Greenberg’s pick of Haas highlights the actor’s first time getting an Emmy nod. It’s also Zendaya’s first Emmy nomination, received for her work as Rue on HBO’s Euphoria. To take in the nominees from other acting categories, whether they be first-timers or Emmy veterans, you can view the full list of this year’s nominations here. And come September 20 when the Emmy Awards air, you can find out which actors from our list and Greenberg’s picks will end up taking home statuettes this year. 

 

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Path to the Emmy Awards: Shira Haas

Path to the Emmy Awards: Shira Haas

Welcome to our newest series, Path to the Emmy Awards, in which we’ll be featuring Emmy nominees and how they got to their current place of recognition. We’re kicking it off with Israeli actor Shira Haas, who received a nod for Lead Actress in a Limited Series or TV Movie for her work as Esty Shapiro in Netflix’s Unorthodox. Having grown up in a Brooklyn-based Hasidic community, the character runs from an arranged marriage to start a new life in Germany, where she begins to find her voice.

The role required Haas to do partial nudity and to shave her head on camera, all on the first day of production. It also called for singing, piano, English, and Yiddish skills, a tall order. Showrunner Anna Winger recalled in a Variety interview how Haas was the clear choice for the role. “We only showed one actress to Netflix for the part of Esty,” Winger noted. And Haas delivered, as evidenced by her nominated performance, as well as her commitment to the work. The actor moved to Berlin early last year to begin the process, which involved learning Yiddish and how to play the piano. Haas also took singing lessons in preparation for the role, but her audition video demonstrates that the skill came naturally. 

Like most in the business, however, the 25-year-old actor and first-time Emmy nominee had a long journey that led to her breakout role. When she was a toddler, Haas was diagnosed with kidney cancer, for which she underwent treatment for a number of years. She told the LA Times that the experience gave her the ability to “go to some deep places” as an actor. The young thespian shared during the same interview how she’d planned to attend a university and study psychology, but after landing a role in the Israeli film Princess, Haas knew that acting was what she wanted to do.

From there, the actor co-starred in the Israeli drama series Shtisel, which was later picked up by Netflix. She landed a role in Natalie Portman’s 2015 biographical drama A Tale of Love and Darkness before playing Urszula in The Zookeeper’s Wife opposite Jessica Chastain. Haas was quick to state during an interview with the SAG-AFTRA Foundation that she also received a lot of nos along the way, though. And having reached this milestone in her career, the actor still has gratitude for the opportunities that got her here. “I’m so lucky,” Haas noted during the interview, “that [acting] is honestly the thing I love doing the most.” 

The breakout star has also received other accolades outside of this year’s Emmy nod. Haas received an Israeli Academy Award nomination for Best Actress for her work in the drama feature Broken Mirrors, which can be seen in the U.S. via VOD come September 22. And her portrayal of Vika in Ruthy Pribar’s Asia won her the award for Best Actress in an International Narrative Feature at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival. It remains to be seen if Haas will receive a statuette at the Emmy Awards on September 20, but regardless, she’s had quite the journey getting to them. 

 

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Chadwick Boseman: A Tribute to a Great American Actor

Chadwick Boseman: A Tribute to a Great American Actor

Jackie Robinson. James Brown. Thurgood Marshall.

All American legends, all performances aced by the great Chadwick Boseman before he left us. You have to be pretty damn good at your job to play so many icons in a career. And that list doesn’t even include the role he’s probably best known for: King T’Challa from Black Panther.

In the case of the late Chadwick Boseman, who passed away last Friday at the far-too-young age of 43, it’s a testament to not just how talented he was as an actor, but also to how revered he was by Hollywood to be trusted to play such prominent roles over the course of his career. 

But Boseman didn’t just “play” these characters. He embodied them, their passion, and their pain amid distinct challenges in each of their pursuits. He did it with a grace, tenacity, and raw courage that made us feel things — as every great actor should. He was good enough in each of the roles to make you forget you were watching an actor act. That’s the challenge and call answered by a South Carolina-born kid and Howard University grad who realized his dream and got to live it — before succumbing to a four-year battle with colon cancer last Friday. When news broke, an industry already coping with production slowdowns and layoffs collectively gasped yet again. 

Today we’ll celebrate a few of Boseman’s most notable performances — and look ahead to the one that’s coming, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, scheduled for release by Netflix in December.

 

42 (2013)

One of Boseman’s memorable lines from the movie:   

Jackie Robinson: I don’t care if they like me. I didn’t come here to make friends. I don’t even care if they respect me. I know who I am. I’ve got enough respect for myself. I do not want them to beat me. 

Sometimes the universe toys with the world in powerful ways, and has you wondering if something is more than mere coincidence. When I found out about Chadwick Boseman’s passing, I just so happened to be watching a Dodgers game. On this season’s Jackie Robinson Day. With players wearing #42, the title of the biopic Boseman hit a home run in with his performance as Jackie Robinson. 

It’s an important performance that merits a quick revisiting in the year 2020, with civil rights and racial injustice at the forefront of our everyday news cycle. In 42, we see Boseman embody the role of the African-American legend who broke baseball’s color barrier against all odds, while showcasing an unbridled strength and intestinal fortitude that helped love triumph over hate. It’s a gritty performance that encapsulates a chapter of our country’s ugly history, set against America’s pastime, at a time when another chapter is unfolding right before our very eyes. 

 

Black Panther (2018)

One of Boseman’s more memorable lines from the movie:   

King T’Challa: What happens now determines what happens to the rest of the world.

As a testament to his superhero qualities as an actor, it became fitting that Boseman eventually became entrusted to play one — King T’Challa in Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Black Panther. In a film that defied expectation to become one of the top grossing films of all time ($1.3B and counting), Boseman led a stellar cast in what ultimately became a global cultural phenomenon. 

Not only did it put Boseman at the center of a commercial success, but “Wakanda Forever” became part of the cultural lexicon, and led to salutes wherever he went. The Black Marvel superhero also made an incalculable impact on millions of fans, as evidenced by this heartfelt tribute on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.

 

Da 5 Bloods (2020)

One of Boseman’s more memorable lines from the movie:   

 Stormin’ Norman: War is about money. Money is about war. Every time I walk out my front door, I see cops patrolling my neighborhood like it’s some kind of police state. I can feel just how much I ain’t worth.

In Spike Lee’s Da 5 Bloods released this past June on Netflix, Boseman played Stormin’ Norman, a fallen squad leader from a Vietnam War battalion that comes to be known as “the Bloods.” No surprise, Boseman shines in his role as a vibrant lightning rod of a character who posthumously brings together his fellow soldiers in search of a lost treasure they buried during the war. In showing us the ugliness of war, Boseman delivers a memorable performance (albeit in flashback form) — a trademark of a career that never once saw the actor phone it in.

 

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (Scheduled for release: December 2020)

With the film adaptation of August Wilson’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play on the horizon, anticipation had already been building for this film starring Viola Davis as Ma Rainey (aka “The Mother of the Blues”) and Boseman as the brash young trumpeter Levee, who plays in Ma Rainey’s band but has big plans to one day lead a band of his own. These two roles were already receiving early Oscar buzz in advance of the film’s upcoming release — and now with it being Boseman’s final film performance, it’s sure to be watched through a powerful new lens.  

One of Boseman’s co-stars from the film, Glynn Turman, remembers being impressed with the actor during their shoot. “Chadwick’s work ethic was amazing,” reveals Turman of the countless scenes he worked with Boseman. “He pushed himself and allowed himself to be pushed past predetermined outcomes. This trust made for exciting moments in his performance as well as those of us working opposite him.”

As with any retrospective, it’s hard to cover everything that made Boseman so special. For a more comprehensive embrace, check out his IMDB page, where you can do a deep dive into his full body of work.

 

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Gregg Rosenzweig has been a writer, creative director and managing editor for various entertainment clients, ad agencies and digital media companies over the past 20 years. He is also a partner in the talent management/production company, The Rosenzweig Group.

 

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Our Dream Cast for The CW’s Live-Action Adaptation of ‘The Powerpuff Girls’

Our Dream Cast for The CW’s Live-Action Adaptation of ‘The Powerpuff Girls’

In case you missed the news that got both 90s babies and cartoon buffs atwitter, The CW has a live-action adaptation of The Powerpuff Girls in the works. The original Cartoon Network series aired from 1998 to 2005 and featured three young sisters born from a science experiment whose accidental ingredient of “Chemical X” gifted them with superpowers. Blossom, Bubbles, and Buttercup were pint-sized heroes who used their abilities to fight crime in the City of Townsville, keeping it safe from a colorful roster of supervillains. The upcoming live-action series will pick up with the sisters now in their 20s, disillusioned and resenting the fact that their childhood was sacrificed for fighting crime. The project’s official synopsis leaves us with the cliffhanger, “Will they agree to reunite now that the world needs them more than ever?” We have a feeling that the answer is yes, so for this installment of Our Dream Cast, all of the selected actors have proven their fighting abilities in previous action projects. Keep reading for our dream casting picks for Blossom, Bubbles, and Buttercup in the upcoming CW series. 

 

Blossom

Cartoon Network lists Blossom as the leader of the Powerpuff Girls, describing her as strong and determined. With that in mind, Naomi Scott seems like the perfect choice. She has experience bringing animated characters to life, namely with her portrayal of Princess Jasmine in Disney’s 2019 live-action feature. Her Aladdin co-star Mena Massoud complimented how Scott “brings that sense of empowerment to the character,” and she described during the same interview how Princess Jasmine “shows the skills and qualities of a leader.” If that doesn’t convince you that Scott is the right choice for Blossom, take a look at her action credits. From her role in Lionsgate’s 2017 Power Rangers as the Pink Ranger to her recent performance in Elizabeth Banks’ reboot of Charlie’s Angels, Scott has displayed some serious skills with fight scenes. Suffice it to say that we can already picture Scott leading the Powerpuff Girls against villains like Mojo Jojo and Fuzzy Lumpkins in the live-action series.

 

Bubbles

As the “softest and sweetest Powerpuff Girl,” some people may mistake Bubbles for a pushover. But they would be wrong. According to Cartoon Network, “she can kick monster and villain butt just as well as her sisters can.” The description rings true for another TV character with special powers: Supergirl. That’s right, Melissa Benoist is our choice to play Bubbles on the upcoming CW show. She obviously has experience within the superhero genre, and her work as the titular character in CBS’ Supergirl demonstrates the actor’s ability with sweet characters that can also pack a punch. 

 

Buttercup

Last but not least, there’s Buttercup. As the tough one of the bunch, Cartoon Network describes how she “fights hard and has a pile of victims to prove it.” The recent reboot of Charlie’s Angels once again comes to mind, but this time for its former MI6 character that wields a machine gun. Thanks to her impressive fight skills displayed as Jane Kano, we’re naming Ella Balinska as our choice to play Buttercup. The relative newcomer recently performed another physically-demanding role as Cherie in Blumhouse’s Run Sweetheart Run, and her training background in 12 types of stage combat would certainly lend itself to portray the butt-kicking Buttercup.  

 

These are, of course, just our picks for the leads of The Powerpuff Girls. We’d love to hear your casting choices for the live-action iterations of characters from the original animated series, such as Professor Utonium, Sara Bellum, and the mayor. As we await more news on the live-action, reboot series in development at The CW, comment below which actors you would pick for the cast!

 

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A Peek Into the Cast of ‘The Personal History of David Copperfield’

A Peek Into the Cast of ‘The Personal History of David Copperfield’

For this installment of A Peek into the Cast, we’re featuring the upcoming period film from Veep creator Armando Iannucci. He and Simon Blackwell adapted the classic Charles Dickens novel for the most recent on-screen iteration of The Personal History of David Copperfield. As with other adaptations, Iannucci’s film remains true to the mid-19th century England setting of its source material, but his version rethinks the casting of roles that were previously played by white actors. “I just thought, that’s how I must cast the whole film, cast who you think is the best person for that role,” the auteur told IndieWire. That decision started with Dev Patel as the titular character, whom we follow on his journey from destitute orphan to budding writer in Victorian England. Keep reading for more on Patel and other lead cast members of The Personal History of David Copperfield.

 

Dev Patel

You might know Patel from films such as Slumdog Millionaire, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, or Lion, the latter of which earned him an Oscar nomination. The actor has a number of impressive credits to his name and was top-of-mind for Iannucci when it came to casting the lead role. “When I knew I was making the film, I could only think of Dev playing David,” Iannucci told IndieWire. And it appears he was the actor for the job. “Of course, it all revolves around Copperfield himself, and Dev Patel turns out to be the ideal choice,” asserts one Deadline review. “He is charming and completely believable in the role of a guy whose life is up and down but someone who, even as a child, was observing and writing about it all the time.” And as for his performance during the more romantic moments of the film, the actor’s recent turn as a dating app founder struggling to figure out his own life in Amazon’s Modern Love speaks to Patel’s deft ability with on-screen chemistry.

Tilda Swinton

We know that the chameleon-like actor is capable of drama. Film credits like Suspiria, Snowpiercer, and We Need to Talk About Kevin come quickly to mind. But let’s not forget her comedic work as the ruthless “Snuff” magazine editor in Amy Schumer’s Trainwreck or as twin-sister gossip columnists in the Coen brothers’ Hail, Caesar!. Swinton’s varied body of work speaks to her ability with this interpretation of David’s eccentric Aunt Betsey. The trailer alone shows her kicking someone off a donkey and having a slap fight with Ben Whishaw’s Uriah Heep, which promises an exciting performance for this iteration of the classic character. 

Hugh Laurie 

This is not Laurie’s first time working with Iannucci; he was often seen as recurring character Tom James on Veep. You may also know Laurie from Fox’s long-running medical drama House, in which he starred as the title role’s antisocial doctor. The actor is well-versed in portraying offbeat characters, going all the way back to his performance as one of the henchmen to Glenn Close’s Cruella de Vil in Disney’s 1996 live-action adaptation of 101 Dalmatians. Laurie’s track record with eccentric roles will surely lend itself to his portrayal of the kite-flying Mr. Dick in The Personal History of David Copperfield

 

Besides Patel, Swinton, and Laurie as the listed lead characters, there are a number of performances to watch for in the upcoming film. Peter Capaldi as Mr. Micawber, Whishaw as Uriah Heep, Benedict Wong as Mr. Wickfield, and Rosalind Eleazar as Wickfield’s daughter Agnes, to name a few. You can catch all of these performances and more in select theaters when The Personal History of David Copperfield has its U.S. theatrical release on August 28. And here’s hoping that it inspires more representation in future period pieces. In the words of Iannucci, “I think it’s important, if we are going to keep making these stories, that we draw from 100 percent of the amazing acting talent available to us.”

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Meet Isabel Macmaster – the ‘Voices That Give’ Competition Winner

Meet Isabel Macmaster – the ‘Voices That Give’ Competition Winner

For Australia-based actor Isabel Macmaster, living and working in Los Angeles has always been the dream. Now, thanks to a submission on Casting Networks®, that chance may come sooner than anticipated. 

In May, Macmaster — best known for her stint on the long-running Australian series Neighbors — came across a submission on Casting Networks for an international online talent contest. Titled Voices That Give, it was described as America’s Got Talent meets The X Factor meets Live Aid for orphans and children in foster care. Singer and Hallmark Channel star Jen Lilley was hosting it.

The contest was divided in to four categories: musicians, actors, dancers and special skills. Winners in each category would be chosen based on the number of votes, and winning prizes were tailored to each category. There was also an additional grand prize of $10,000 for the person who won the most overall votes. Each vote cost $1, with 100 percent of the proceeds going to charity, which included Project Orphans USA.

In an exclusive interview with Casting Networks, Macmaster says she has been using the website for many years, and often gets personalized casting suggestions via email based on her chosen criteria. 

“One day, I got an email from Casting Networks suggesting I enter this competition,” recalls the actress. “It had some great prizes and an amazing cause, so I thought, I’m in!”

The prizes in the acting category were hard to resist, especially for someone who lived all the way in Australia. Among them was a walk-on role in one of Lilley’s Hallmark Channel movies and a meeting with Lilley’s talent manager. 

“I’ve lived in Australia my whole life,” said Macmaster. “I’ve been to L.A. for three months at one point, and I loved it so much. To be living and acting there is my dream. So the opportunity to be on an American film set really grabbed me.” 

For her contest submission piece, Macmaster chose to play out a scene from the first episode of the second season of the TV series Fleabag. In it, Macmaster, as the title character, is having a conversation with her off-camera father about how she was happy for him marrying her godmother-now-stepmother.

Fleabag is a such a brilliant show and that scene had lot of realness, and a lot of heart,” said Macmaster. “It’s not often you get a competition where you submit a scene of your choice, as opposed to a specific one given to you. Choosing your own scene is a very free way of showing your best side.”

The acting part of the contest was easy, according to the actress. It was lobbying for votes that was more challenging. “I’ve never been someone to do that, and always found it uncomfortable,” Macmaster said. “But with this, it wasn’t so difficult because there was a charity behind it. So even if I didn’t win, it was a beautiful way to get people to vote and donate at the same time.” (In the end, some $50,000 was raised altogether for charity.)

Over five rounds of competition, which ended in July, Macmaster rose from the top 25 to first place not only in her acting category, but also in overall votes, making her the Grand Prize winner. All thanks to a self-submission. 

Macmaster understands that for some actors, submitting regular self-tape auditions can be daunting. Unlike a physical casting session, there is no instant feedback or notes given. Sometimes, there is nothing. “Many times you put effort in to making a tape, send it off to the abyss and don’t hear anything at all. I see why it can be frustrating for actors.”

However, for herself, Macmaster chooses to see self-submissions on Casting Networks as an essential part of an actor’s toolkit.

“I look at it as one cog in the big machine,” she explains. “If you’ve got 10 things going on, and one of them is self-submission, you still have all these other things where you have immediate responses from human beings.”

In fact, Macmaster sees self-submissions on Casting Networks only as a positive, knowing that a tape sent from Australia has the potential of being seen by casting directors and filmmakers as far away as the U.S. or the U.K.  And if an actor does not have representation in the form of an agent or manger, self-submission on Casting Networks becomes even more important.   

“The moment I started taking charge was the moment I got so many more opportunities, and everything looked up from then on,” Macmaster said. “It’s so exciting to know that as I will be working on a film set with Jen Lilley, surrounded by all these wonderful creatives.”

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Livestream: Managing Nerves in Auditions With Acting Coach Raquel Gardner

Livestream: Managing Nerves in Auditions With Acting Coach Raquel Gardner

Auditions can be one of the most nerve-wracking experiences for actors, no matter their level of experience. Acting coach Raquel Gardner has the perfect recipe to get you out of your head and into that role!

Raquel Gardner is a private acting/goal coach and mentor to a bevy of successful actors on screen today. Founded on her reputation for trust and commitment, in 2015 Gardner started The Actors Mark, a safe space for actors to build solid technique in their craft, and understand the business side of their career. Today, her actors are currently working on Netflix, Starz, FOX, NBC, HBO, Showtime and a long list of other outlets. Gardner brings a wealth of knowledge and experience about the industry, having been a commercial agent for three years, a working actor for the past 30 years, and coaching for the last seven years. She believes coaching is a calling to help the new generation of actors be the best they can be, bypass the pitfalls of the business, and get to the actual work faster. Her reputation speaks for itself, as her clients will attest to it!

The Actors Mark

 

 

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Ways to Transform Your Space into a Self Tape Studio

Ways to Transform Your Space into a Self Tape Studio

More than ever before, it is imperative for actors to quickly and efficiently complete a high quality self tape. But not everyone has easy access to a comprehensive taping studio. Even if you do, it’s always good to be able to shoot your own work in a pinch for a quick turnaround, or for those times when you don’t have extra cash on hand for taping fees. But how to go about taping high-quality work, especially when you don’t have spare rooms lying around for that purpose? Below are some tips for quickly transforming your space into a workable self tape studio.

  1. Find the right space. Where you choose to tape can make a huge difference. When you’re trying to find the right wall in your home, there are several factors to consider. Is there enough space for your camera to capture a full body shot? (If so, what else might be included in that shot?) Large blank walls are best, in an area that can be cleared of furnishings and wall hangings. If you have the ability to paint a useful wall a nice gray or blue that compliments your skin tone in a self tape, that would be ideal. Otherwise, invest in a good backdrop, and make sure to steam it and keep it clean and wrinkle-free.
  2. Get some good lights. I cannot overemphasize the importance of good lighting. It truly transforms the quality of any self tape. Basic photography lighting equipment can be found online for affordable prices, and is definitely worth the investment. Write it off on your taxes and prepare to dazzle!
  3. Camera and tripod. While phone cameras may work for many small self tapes, it’s not a bad idea to get a good camera. It doesn’t have to have all the bells and whistles; it just needs to be able to focus well and take a good, easily transferable audition video. Research before you buy, because this is a cornerstone of your actor office equipment. And for God’s sake, get a decent tripod. For far too long, I foolishly made do, MacGyvering tripods by taping my phone to lamps, stacking a small library’s worth of books, or using binder clips to get the exact right angle. Invest in a tripod. Get an attachment that can clip in your cellphone in a pinch.
  4. Editing software. Anyone who has struggled through the painstaking editing process on a mobile phone can attest to the fact that you will want access to a laptop or desktop that has editing software.
  5. Consider the sound quality. This is a tough one for those, like me, who live in thin-walled, poorly insulated apartments that love nothing more than to bounce each and every sound off their drywall surfaces. But since sound quality can make a huge difference in how your self tape turns out overall, it’s worth finding some creative solutions. Rugs and padded wall hangings can go a long way toward absorbing sound. A good microphone attachment for your camera might be a good purchase. If you often audition for voiceover work, consider padding a closet space with foam or other absorbent materials. It may take some trial and error, but it will absolutely help.

Staying organized is key, especially for those of us who don’t have the space for a permanent self tape area. Keep all your materials clean, protected and together, so that setup and takedown is a minimal hassle. If you can’t afford everything right away, prioritize the things that make your final product look more professional. When you can, start thinking ahead — if you know you’re moving, keep an eye out for a good self tape wall. Take note of carpet vs. no carpet. Identify what direction the windows face and how it might affect light in your space. The process will be one of constant revision and upgrades, so don’t get discouraged. You’ll soon find what works best for you.

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