« A Performance Too Good to Be True | Main | Fringe en Mass »

Showcase Rules -- Getting the Gig

Tatiana_suarez_pico "An eager beaver." That's what you might have called me when I worked as an assistant at an actors' showcase, during which I learned more about casting than I have during my entire career as an actor. It was a hot event organized by a TV network and open to industry only. Showcases are a way for network execs to meet new, diverse talent to nurture and channel into the industry. After a handful of actors are chosen from hundreds of auditions, they're partnered up and given a scene and a director. Agents, casting directors, and managers are invited to the showcase, so actors will often pick up representation or get auditions. What's great about these showcases is that for their duration, the actors in them are "hot commodities" -- a great situation to be in.

So how do you get into a showcase? Do you need an agent, a connection to the CD, incredible talent, or a disgustingly beautiful face? The answer is all of the above. As a temporary insider, I was able to see what hindered many of the actors who didn't make it in -- myself included. The rules below should help you navigate the system.

Rule No. 1: Don't let labels rule your world.

Many showcases are called "diversity showcases," but don't let such labels deter you from submitting. Rick Najera, director of CBS's Multicultural Sketch Comedy Talent Showcase in L.A. and vice president of programming development at the bilingual LATV Networks, said, "[Our] showcase is a worldview and a more accurate view of the world than we see in the media." If you think you should be part of a project, submit.

Rule No. 2: Submit on time and through every possible channel.

If you hear about a showcase (casting calls are posted in Back Stage and on BackStage.com, in the breakdowns, on ActorsAccess.com, and through performers' unions) but you don't have representation, send your headshot and résumé directly to the showcase's casting director. CDs select actors based on credits, training, and looks. It's kind of an arbitrary mix, but most CDs look at every headshot, so this blind submission is worth doing. Submit through your union as well, if you're in one.

Rule No. 3: Stay informed and connected.

Keep on top of showbiz news by reading trade papers and websites. It's important to know what's going on at the network organizing the showcase; the shows currently on the network, the hiring of a new CD, and the unions' reports on diversity may play a part in who gets cast. The format and submission procedures for these showcases may change from year to year as well. It's also imperative to keep in touch with CDs, because you never know who's going to be casting these projects. 

Rule No. 4: Be honest.

If you get an audition for a showcase, avoid putting on a "personality costume." Geoffrey Soffer, manager of casting at ABC Entertainment Television Group in New York, said he wants to see actors' personalities. "It's important that when an actor walks into the room, we are able to see who they really are," he said. "Actors should remain true to themselves and their talent instead of trying to be the person they think we're looking for."

Rule No. 5: Don't overanalyze.

If you auditioned but didn't get into the showcase, don't sweat it. Even actors who regularly get callbacks and have MFAs are left out. The key thing is getting seen. According to Soffer, "It's not just about the showcase. One of the most important parts of the process is that we're auditioning actors we don't know whom we may keep in mind for other projects, whether they make it into the showcase or not." In other words, if at first you don't succeed, dust yourself off and try again.

-- Tatiana Suarez Pico

Tatiana Suarez Pico's credits include '365 Days/365 Plays' with INTAR at the Public Theater and the film 'Accidents at Home and How They Happen'. She is the co-author of the Web comic Bodega Ave. (www.bodegaave.com) and a contributor to Latin Week NY.

Dig This


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Showcase Rules -- Getting the Gig:


These are great tips for potential showcasers everywhere. Excellent!

Tatiana, wonderful inside info. There are times when I wonder if network diversity showcases are just yet another way to exclude minorities, women and the disabled, but you demystified the process quite a bit. I guess you can have a strategy but only up to a point. Also, I often find out that many of the same actors are being chosen for different diversity showcases. If these showcases are really effective, then why must they (the same actors) continue to do them year after year? That being said, it is better that they are being done than not at all.

The comments to this entry are closed.