If you’re a child actor reading this because you like to perform research on your craft, we tip our hat to you. Although maybe a better salute would be a slow clap, or perhaps a dab. Whatever it is you kids are doing these days, kudos to you for investing time in your career at an early age. But this article is for actors over the age of 18, too, even though many hold the notion that they’re not right for children’s series. According to Krisha Bullock and Jamie Snow of Bullock & Snow Casting, though, that’s not the case. Their office is known for casting projects such as the Nickelodeon series Henry Danger and Game Shakers. The two have a number of upcoming projects that include the new Nickelodeon series Danger Force and Side Hustle. The dynamic duo took time from their busy schedules to answer questions as a team about what goes into casting children’s series. Actors of all ages, take note.
How do adult actors factor into children’s series?
One of the main misconceptions about casting a children’s series is the number of adults we cast. On average, we cast more adults than children per episode during a season. Outside of our series regulars, we need a lot of adults to populate the world around them, such as teachers, parents, store clerks, etc. We love casting adults and do our best to champion the kids by casting well-trained, supportive adults who will fit into our kid-friendly world.
What tips do you have for actors auditioning for children’s series?
The shows we cast are generally shot in a multi-camera format. In multi-camera, there is a heightened sense of reality. We typically ask for additional volume, a quicker pace and increased energy in the performances. Sometimes actors think we are looking for “over the top” or more of a sketch type of comedy, but we prefer a real, grounded performance with increased volume, energy and pace. Another tip that applies to most series — not just children’s — would be to remember to bring your “callback” level performance to every audition. We move very quickly, and the recording of your first taped audition quite often becomes your “callback” that producers, directors, network executives, etc. will make casting decisions on. Be memorized, make strong choices and be fully prepared for your audition!
What special considerations do you keep in mind when casting young actors?
When casting young actors, we think it’s important to remember they are just that: young. They are impressionable kids who are in the midst of growth, learning, and transformation. They change from week to week and can be drastically different actors in a very short period of time. We try to make sure they are as comfortable as possible, encouraging them to be creative with the role while staying grounded and real. We make sure to respect both school and dinner times and ideally only audition kids between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. We attempt to give minors more time with the material and spend more time in the audition room giving redirection and calming nerves. We try to do everything in our power to set them up for success.
So whether you’re a minor or nostalgic for the days when you still got carded, you can learn from the casting of children’s series. As Bullock and Snow tell us, some lessons know no genre, such as always bringing your “callback” level performance to each and every audition. The next time you’re reading for a multi-camera children’s show, though, remember their advice to keep things grounded while bringing increased energy, volume and pacing to the performance. And don’t worry if you haven’t followed these guidelines in the past. They say it’s never too late to teach an old dog new tricks. We think the adage applies to people of any age, however, even if the trick involves learning how to dab.