I had the wonderful pleasure of interviewing casting director Arlie Day for Acting.About.com awhile back, and it is an incredible honor to now feature her on Behind the Sign for a follow-up interview! Arlie responded to my questions thoughtfully, and as you will see from this interview, her insight is certain to be very helpful to anyone pursuing a dream in the entertainment industry!
I asked Arlie Day if she would update all of us on what she’s been up to since our last interview. Arlie replied:
“Since our last interview, I’ve been working steadily on a few TV pilots and some really cool independent features. I also had the pleasure of working at a cable network as the manager of casting for a few months while the existing exec went on maternity leave. It’s been fun to see the other side of casting. My thought on this is similar to my thought that everyone should take a stab at waiting tables at least once in their lives. It helps with having empathy for those in that position.
Arlie mentioned that it has been “fun to see the other side of casting.” This brings up a fantastic point: the importance of working in and experiencing multiple areas of the entertainment industry. Much can be learned simply by trying something new. And now, with the immense power of social media/new media; there are many opportunities for actors and other entertainment industry professionals to obtain all sorts of work! Arlie explains about new media:
“It’s crazy how much the industry has changed due to new media. This past year alone, we’re seeing a good portion of TV watchers pulling the plug on their cable subscriptions to rely solely on streaming sites. We have more content to choose from than ever before, and with viewers being constantly on the go, it makes more sense to save the money while also having endless options at our fingertips. Because of the seemingly endless content, it’s a fun time to be an actor. There are more opportunities to get in the room and get hired, since there are that many more roles to be filled. I think a lot of newer actors have felt that these past couple of years have been an uphill climb. This is partially due to the fact that film stars who weren’t previously interested in doing television were hopping on these limited series and filling the roles that were normally cast with actors who would come in to read. Now there’s enough content to go around. It’s an exciting time and I’m anxious to see how it all plays out.”
While on the subject of social media, I also asked Arlie if she believes it is important for an actor to be on social media in order to find success. She said:
“Luckily I’ve only really worked with producers who care about level of talent rather than number of followers, so I can’t personally speak to how important it is to have a lot of followers. Social media is cool in the sense that there is now an interactive quality to a lot of these television series, so fans can interact with the stars of their favorite shows and feel like a real part of the process.”
Impressing a Casting Director
Actors often wonder about the best way to make a good impression on a casting director. Finding success in this business (and pretty much every business for that matter!) has a lot to do with simply being respectful and doing the best job possible. I asked Arlie if she would share her thoughts on how to impress a casting director at an audition. Arlie’s response was:
“As for impressing a casting director, my opinion is that it’s just about being prepared, being confident, and being kind. If you’re prepared and informed, it will help you make bold choices to help you stand out. Confidence is the key to auditioning and this also comes with being prepared. I always tell actors that, if they have an opportunity to read the full script before their audition instead of just the sides, they should do so. Also, if you’re going in for a show that’s already airing, it’s so simple to watch an episode online to get the tone of the show. I’ve had actors come into the room and ask “Is this a drama or a comedy?” These are questions that you should already know the answer to. It may seem obvious to most, but you’d be surprised. It’s also a learning process and everyone has to start somewhere. We should remember to be kind to one another during this process.
As Arlie explained, preparation is extremely important in order to impress casting. Preparation is a major component of success in general, and another key aspect to success is motivation! I asked Arlie what she believes is the best way to stay motivated in the entertainment industry. She replied:
“The best way to stay motivated, in my opinion, is to keep the momentum going. It’s easy to fall into a slump during slow periods, so I find it important to always be doing something to move the needle. I’m not advising staying busy just to be busy, but to always be creating. There are a wide variety of things that actors can do to keep the momentum going if they aren’t working or auditioning as much as they’d like to. There are numerous acting classes and improvisation classes, which I feel every actor could always benefit from. Many actors take a shot at creating their own short films, web series, and independent films that allow them to tap into a different side of film making. There are always showcases and local theatre looking for talent. The list goes on. Just keep the creative juices flowing.”
I have consistently maintained that “being you” is one of the most (if not the most) important aspects of becoming successful in the entertainment industry – and in life in general! In my first interview with Arlie, she said the following about being who you are:
“I think it's important to be yourself when you come into an audition. Actors often ask what we're looking for in the room, and we just want you to be yourself and bring the best interpretation of the character with you. We want you to be comfortable and feel safe so your creative juices are flowing and you can do your best work. Outside of the audition process, it's important to be yourself and be real. It's the best way to get ahead in this industry. People are transparent, and everyone appreciates authenticity.”
I asked Arlie if she had anything to add to this topic for this follow-up interview and she responded:
“I’ve always felt that being yourself and staying true to one’s self is so important. Actors are most comfortable in the room when they are just being themselves. Obviously when the audition starts, they are jumping into a character but aside from that, sustaining authenticity is crucial in all aspects of the industry and life.”
Keeping Up with Arlie!
As we can see, Arlie is keeping very busy, and I asked her about her future plans and goals! She said:
“I wrapped my position at the network just before the holidays and just in time for pilot season. I just hopped onto a comedy series, which I’m really excited about that will air later this year. I’m also casting two comedy features as well as one drama. My goals are to continue having the opportunities to cast both comedy and drama, series and features. I just love the balance of doing both. I’m excited about finding discovery talent since that has always been my passion and what I love most about casting. There is so much untapped talent out there, and I’m thrilled to be casting in a time where more actors will get that opportunity to fulfill their passions.”
We actors are thrilled (and are very fortunate!) to work with casting directors such as Arlie Day! Thanks for all of your insight, kindness and advice, Arlie!
Jesse Daley is an actor and a writer who lives and works in Hollywood, California.