Actors vs. Casting | The Audition War – Who’s to Blame?

Backstage publishes Secret Agent Man’s audition feedback assaults: “The first actor smelled like ass. I hope this doesn’t become a trend.”

(Was nothing learned from Twittergate?) How did this war long-ago begin?

Recently posted by an actor on a popular social media site for auditions:

“A Casting Director is what toxic waste wants to be when it grows up.”

An actress in response to my Backstage post advising actors against lying on their resume:

“It’s easy fro [sic] some White guy to wax poetic about what to do and not to do, but the sad truth is, if anyone is going to get discovered or hired for anything in Hollywood without experience, the likelihood is that they’ll look exactly like him.”


Backstage publishes Secret Agent Man’s audition feedback assaults:

“The first actor smelled like ass. I hope this doesn’t become a trend.”

“If you’re over 40 and you still don’t have any professional credits, it might be time to rethink your life.”

After I participated on a casting director panel at ActorFest 2011 I posted here my reaction to a rude casting director’s commentary to attending actors that included this exchange:

“The moderator asked the question, “If an actor is late to an audition what should he or she do?”

Without hesitance Mr. Cantankerous Casting Director spat, “Get out of the business.””

Has the entertainment community been gorging on ginger root? There’s a lot of bitterness being blast from both sides of the audition table. And via social media which is the wall for modern-day graffiti emboldening cranky, crass behavior.

I don’t understand the faulty logic of actors and casting, who think it is them (actors) against us (casting).

I’m a director damn it. Why would I want to alienate artists for whom I’m yearning they solve my casting puzzle?

How did this war long-ago begin and still persist?

1. Some actors misunderstand that casting decisions are mostly subjective. They finger point blame for their being overlooked on an imagined casting animosity beamed from behind the audition table like a laser.

2. Actors misinterpreting the lack of Disney smiles behind the audition table for disgruntled malaise. When actually, the casting personnel are worried, anxious, and possibly desperately exhausted after an assembly line of candidates has produced no viable product: the hope for potential wanes.

3. Some casting personnel not understanding that, like the retail and hospitality industries, casting requires its participants provide congenial customer service when working with actors. An audition should not be the equivalent of suffering your local DMV’s draconian dourness.

4. Some casting personnel (and actors) becoming disillusioned with their career. Instead of bravely abandoning a sinking ship, and finding passage on a more joyful journey elsewhere, they go down with the boat until death.

On both sides of the audition table; we’re workers joined in an ensemble to complete a task larger than ourselves. Actors and casting: cut the pious, defensive, bitching bullshit. The audition process is not a time for battle cries and barricades. We’re collaborators joined to create not destroy.

Yes, there are casting personnel that annoy actors. There are actors that annoy casting personnel.

Forge past the irritants. Embrace the givers. Be a mature entertainment activist instead of a complaining, distrustful, entertainment side-line heckler tossing Molotov cocktails. We’ve all witnessed enough of those typist’s flaming tirades online.

With war, no one truly wins.

My best,

Casting Directors, Talent Agents, Directors & Actors

Love the Best-Selling Book for Actors
ACTING: Make It Your Business!

AMIYB_Amazon“Humorous and witty…
Actors everywhere who are trying to succeed in the business, young or old, on stage or on camera, anywhere in the world, take note:

This is your roadmap!”
BERNARD TELSEY, casting director – CSA
(NBC’s Peter Pan – LIVE!, Into The Woods – The Movie, Wicked, Sex & The City)
“All the right questions asked and answered…
and with a generous portion of good humor.”
SUZANNE RYAN, casting director, CSA
(Law & OrderUnforgettable)
“I love this book!
Paul’s book tells you what you don’t want to hear but really need to know
EVERY actor should read this book!”
DIANE RILEY, Senior Legit Talent Agent
Harden-Curtis & Associates
“Paul’s book made me proud to be a part of this community we call ‘show!'”
KAREN ZIEMBA, TONY & Drama Desk Award Winning Actress
“Paul Russell’s words are not only blunt & accurate they zero in on all the questions every actor wants to know but is afraid to ask!”
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Bret Adams, Ltd.
“I had my Business of Acting, BFA Seniors, class do book reports on a variety of “business of acting” books and ACTING: Make It Your Business came out a clear winner—considered to be essential for their bookshelves!
Dept. Chair – Dept. of Thtr.
Chapman University

Get smarter on the business of acting from legendary Hollywood & Broadway actors and talent agents in a casting director Paul Russell’s Best-Selling Book ACTING:AMIYB_Amazon Make It Your Business!

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Paul Russell’s career as a casting director, director, acting teacher and former actor has spanned nearly thirty 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 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

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