This week: A Casting Director Calls Out a Casting Director for Bad Behavior
This was not to be the scheduled blog for this week. Generally I’m four weeks ahead of myself in my writing you. But there was a breach of trust from behind the audition table this week. And it must be addressed.
This past week during casting for The New York Musical Theater Festival casting director Daryl Eisenberg was tweeting live commentary during auditions about the actors she was seeing before her. I’ve seen the tweets on Twitter which have subsequently appeared on numerous web sites:
“If we wanted to hear it a different way, don’t worry, we’ll ask.”
“Your skirt makes me think you’re Wiccan…”
“Who is that person in your headshot? it is def not the person standing in front of me.”
“If you are going to sing about getting on your knees, might as well do it and crawl towards us…right?”
When Actors Equity Association got wind of this behavior Ms. Eisenberg then released the following tweet:
“We have a quick break….for the record, we tweet when the actors are NOT IN THE ROOM.”
Ms. Eisenberg, you shouldn’t be commenting at all. It is not your position to digitally vomit your reactions to the public at large during auditions. What happens in the audition room stays in the audition room. This is not American Idol.
Now before you interject, “Paul, hello this is the kettle. You’re black.” My audition room observations in my book and this blog offer solutions. Having been someone who was ridiculed in my youth I give careful consideration before relaying any anecdotes that may embarrass. All examples of missteps that I share (including my own) must come with an offer of a solution or adjustment for improvement and not be utilized for the sake of entertainment or humiliation.
Ms Eisenberg you have violated the trust of those who came before you. Artists who bared their talents in exchange for an offer of work; a chance to earn monies for food and rent. An audition is when the actor is often at their most vulnerable emotional state. An actor faces many challenges in their career. As casting directors we should be there as support for the artist. A casting director is nothing more than glorified human resources and any casting director who gives themselves “power” over an actor is not a collaborator of the arts but a dilettante. We are not to place ourselves upon pedestals. We don’t hire. We’re traffic managers bringing in and out of the audition room a flow of talent. We’re personal shoppers and nothing greater.
It’s behavior such as yours Ms. Eisenberg that makes me ashamed at times to be a “gate keeper”. For that’s all we are. A casting director’s job was not created out of need but out of convenience for the creative team. Before casting directors existed, producers, directors and stage managers did the leg work that has become our trade. We’re expendable. This current economic crisis and our dwindling client base as budgets are cut should have made you more than aware of that reality.
Actors deserve better treatment from those behind the audition table. I was once an actor. I have a great empathy for them. I don’t know if you Ms. Eisenberg were once an actor. If so; you should be damned ashamed of how you have treated those who now stand where you once stood. If you never had the displeasure of auditioning consider yourself fortunate that you never had to endure what actors in your audition room experienced this past week.
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Paul Russell’s career as a casting director, director, acting teacher and former actor has spanned forty-plus years. He has worked on projects for major film studios, television networks, and Broadway. Paul has taught the business of acting and audition technique at NYU and has spoken at universities including Yale, Temple and the University of the Arts. He writes a column for Back Stage and is the author of ACTING: Make It Your Business – How to Avoid Mistakes and Achieve Success as a Working Actor. For more information, please visit www.PaulRussell.net.