Q & A with Casting Director and Artist Ashley Lauren.
Being an actor can be frustrating. Many times we are wondering what Casting Directors are thinking when we are in the room, and what we can do to get #booked. I asked Casting Director and artist, Ashley Lauren, 10 questions about the acting industry!
1) You are a Casting Director at Liz Lewis Casting. How long have you been a Casting Director there and how did you get into casting?
Yes! Currently, I am casting at Liz Lewis Casting and have been on the team for going on three months now! Though I just signed on with this team, I have been freelance casting through my own company Visionary Woman for ten plus years, and started off casting background and managing talent before I graduated college. From there, I fell into many opportunities that led to me casting for commercials, print, independent features, and a few great pilots! I got interested in being a part of that side of the industry early on in college, as I always wanted to have a plan that would keep me doing what I love even when I wasn't performing. I landed an internship with a major talent agency, LTA Chicago, and got my foot in the door as a freelance agent, learning the in's and out's of discovering talent, contracts, initiating castings, and much more! I fell in love with it just as much as I did performing and always had the plan to do both, and I've been blessed to do so!
2) What are the challenges of casting virtually and how has casting changed since pre-Covid times?
I think the challenges have been tech issues, that we and talent have to navigate from time to time, because no platform is perfect. And I think overall, just not being able to receive the same vibe as we all would being in the room. I would say though the challenges seem pretty slim, as it's been easier for most performers to record at home with the right equipment rather than rush around trying to make it to several auditions per week. It has allowed performers to be more relaxed in a great way. Obviously, nothing beats creating those moments live in a room, and we all hope to return back to that soon!
3) I know a lot of people who are having to finally invest in self tape equipment. How important is it for actors to have a professional self tape set up right now?
Honestly, as long as you have a good cell phone, decent natural light, and a clean non-distracting background, you're good to go! If you don't have those things, especially decent lighting, it may be best to invest in a cheap set off of Amazon, where you get a decent background, and ring light for under $100. But I always tell actors not to stress about it! Your cell phone, natural light, and plain wall are fine! And the cool thing with zoom backgrounds is if you want a blue, grey, or colored background you can change it on there to make it look as if that is your wall! I see people starting to do that more and more and it's great!
4) What is your favorite thing about being a Casting Director?
I love being able to discover fresh talent and make a difference in the projects that I cast. I am huge on diversity, inclusion, and true representation, and very bold about it. I love being able to be in a position where my voice matters on these topics and being able to have a hand in truly casting who needs to be seen in certain roles. I love being able to use this position to make a difference in an industry that desperately needs it.
5) Not only are you a Casting Director, but you are also an amazing performer and singer as well. Are you working on any new projects right now?
Why thank you!! I am currently working on multiple projects right now, like every performer, haha! I am co-producing a documentary on interspecies connection and producing my own personal documentary with Ish TV which will be telling my story about healing and overcoming abuse and how I am continuing to do so by helping others, connecting with horses, and with art. I am also slowly working on my album 'Revival' which is set to launch in the late summer.
6) How has being a Casting Director made you think of ways you can become a better performer yourself? Have you learned a lot from watching other people's auditions?
I've become so much better knowing the factors that go into casting and all of the people it takes to come to that decision a lot of times. I have become more free in my auditions knowing that all I can truly do is my best and leave a good enough impression to be asked back, instead of treating that audition like the end all be all of my career. I have learned that less is more, and casting directors are looking for you to bring who you are into the room, and honestly to have fun! We are truly looking to cast someone for the role, and we know not everyone can be picked, but we are rooting for you regardless. I think if most performers knew this, it would help enhance their performances in the room and would take the edge and pressure off.
7) Is it ever odd at times going from "Casting Director" to "Performer"?
Yes! It totally can be in certain scenarios, especially when I go from speaking with my agent about talent I want to see for a role, and then her sending me a request for an audition that same week for something else that I need to audition for! I have had a lot of moments of going "Wow, I'm actually making this work?!" It's a crazy privilege to be on both ends of the spectrum, and I don't take it for granted!
8) Do you have any hobbies that are not performance related?
Yes, I love horse-back riding and volleyball. I also love to hike, swim, and try to travel as much as I can.
9) What is one piece of advice you would give an actor?
To stop acting like the audition is the only audition of your life. Stop putting so much pressure on yourself because the client already knows what they want, and what they want to see is who will fit that and bring that character to life. Be yourself and understand how you want people to feel after you walk out of the room, and let that lead you in your work. If you treat it as if it's life or death, you'll never get booked, but if you learn to let go of what you cannot control and do your best with what you can, that is when the magic will happen. Be intentional and be you.
10) What are you watching on TV right now that you would recommend?
I just wrapped up "Never Have I Ever" which was amazing and "Dare Me" which was pretty decent. I wrapped up some others but they honestly were terrible, like "Tiny Pretty Things"... Don't watch that.
You can learn more about Ashley at www.ashleylaurenonline.com.