How Volunteering Can Get You Cast

Before we can even begin working on analyzing the script, creating our character’s background, or memorizing our lines, we have to have material to work with, we have to get cast. And sometimes that can be the hardest part about being an actor.

Auditioning can be a grueling process. You can go into that room, pour your heart out, be completely connected and compelling and still walk out without even a callback. Some variables you just can’t control, such as your height, weight, and sometimes age. But smart actors can go beyond these givens and use their networking skills to put themselves at a greater advantage. Knowing someone in that audition room can in many cases take care of half the battle for you.  On the other side of that grey foldout table are real people doing a very difficult task. They are trying to find a person that physically fits the roll they are casting who is compelling, talented, easy to get along with, takes direction well, a good worker, dedicated, trustworthy and reliable. Very rarely does a one to two minute monologue offer so much information. Much of casting can be a game of “who you know.” 

A great way to make those connections and become a familiar face is volunteering. Every show, every theatre, every company could use another body helping out. Whether that be in the box office, ushering, painting, or building sets, if you’re there meeting people and networking, then you are helping yourself get cast in their next production.

By bringing up in conversation that you are an actor, maybe mentioning names of people or theatres you’ve worked with and by being a joy to be around you’re marketing yourself and getting your foot in the door. If they like you, can rely on you and know that you are a credited actor looking to work, they will most likely think of you if they have last minute auditions or need a replacement.

Volunteering can also just make you a “familiar face”. Being recognizable is incredibly important in the audition room as it can spark the question: “Where have I seen you before?” This conversation starter can allow you the opportunity to let your sparkling personality shine! Win them over; tell them you’re volunteering for them, maybe even mention how you’ve become good friends with the production or house manager. They’ll be flattered and impressed that you are so active and involved, and will also have a person to connect you to and remember you by.

Reputation and social networking are such a big part of this business. In many cases they can make or break your chances of getting a part. The more people know and trust you, the more opportunities you will get to work. The more work, the more you can do what you do best: act! 

Lisa Dempsey

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