Do’s and Don’ts from Major Hollywood Casting Director - Dorian Frankel

Casting Director Dorian Frankel divulges on what really lands an actor a role: a sense of ease, trustworthiness, and the ability to bring ideas.

Refreshing, right?

With a background in both theater and acting, Dorian mostly casts television and comedies. She gained her footing training under one of Hollywood’s most reputable Casting Director’s, Allison Jones – known for award-winning projects such as Freaks and Geeks and Lady Bird. Similar to her mentor, Dorian’s intuition comes from a well-earned place: experience. Casting series from Parks & Recreation to Veep, the secret to her savvy lies in her commitment to the craft.

Like casting, acting is a build. From experience, she’s learned that there’s more than one piece to the puzzle when it comes to finding the perfect fit. “A lot of casting is just having a feeling of what the character is supposed to be like, what the world is like, who fits it, and making choices based on that.”

To begin, Dorian told us what makes a great actor: authenticity. “To feel like it’s not an act, that it’s just a person in a world that we want to get drawn into and believe is real.”

Of course, this starts with the individual themselves.

A major part of the casting director’s job is to vet actors for their experience and skill level. Dorian explains that there has to be some sort of trust in the actor, that he or she is going to be able to do it when things are moving quickly – and not panic.

“Being present in any creative field is a great asset – when you’re stepping outside of yourself to see how you look to other people, you’re not really engaged in what you’re doing. We’re drawn to people who aren’t worried about how they’re coming across. Who aren’t needy. Who feel at ease and comfortable and are able to take us in and respond authentically within the story being told.”

Harnessing presence as an actor, as Dorian encourages, only facilitates the ability to improv to your fullest potential.

Dorian Frankel

Casting Director, HBO

“If someone makes a mistake and they reset and keep going, that gives me a lot more confidence that if they’re on set and they make a mistake they can keep going and not freak out. And that is useful to the show.”

“If someone makes a mistake and they reset and keep going, that gives me a lot more confidence that if they’re on set and they make a mistake they can keep going and not freak out. And that is useful to the show.”

In other words, being in the moment, allows you to respond naturally to it.

Real actors – like real people – don’t recite their lines and then look to the guy next to him for validation.

Connecting with the reader, being focused, and interacting with the individual in front of you are valuable, admirable practices – whether you’re in the room with a casting director, fellow actor, or a friend. These traits demonstrate craft and extend the opportunity for others to believe in you with equal ferocity to how much you believe in yourself.

Ping-ponging between on-screen and BTS insights, Dorian gives us her first major “don’t.” Don’t over apologize, over thank, or do anything that makes the casting directors feel as if they’re doing you a favor. This too is another way of saying: have some understanding of your own self-worth and project that! You’re in the room for the opportunity to shine.

Dorian promises, “If you’ve been called in, we want you there!”

Contrary to popular belief, most casting directors love finding new faces. The fear of casting directors as gatekeepers, trying to keep you from finding your dream gig, is totally irrational. Dorian can’t help but wonder why actors try to go around the system, highlighting, “All day everyday we are bringing people in to audition, sending selects to producers, getting choices, hiring actors, and 99% of those are because people were submitted by an agent or manager, came in to audition, and got picked. You don’t need to go around it. You just need to go through it. All this effort put into finding another way is not fruitful.”

With this in mind, Dorian suggests against exerting more effort into your marketing than you are into your practice.

“If you’re putting all of your time and effort into these marketing things make sure the work that you’re doing is of a quality that is worth it – because that’s more important… That effort, time and money needs to go towards making sure you’re at the top of your game, as good as you can be, as comfortable with the audition process as you can be, and as skilled as you can be because its competitive. There are wonderful people out there and you’re not going to get a job just because you’re kind of winging it. You need to be really studied, skilled, know what you’re doing and have an understanding of the process so that we feel confident that you can step up and do a good job when you get to set – without having to be given ideas or have your hand held. Because that’s part of what we’re hiring: the ability to do the job, not just the audition. Quality matters.”

So if there’s anything we take away from Dorian, it’s put your money where your mouth is. Audition until it feels second nature. Take ownership over the fact that this is your career, and take yourself just as seriously as you want others to take you.

Sure, it might require a lot of commitment, and for you to step out of your comfort zone – but if you’re looking to pursue your dreams, you might as well do so wholeheartedly and with your best foot forward.

Hope you appreciate what Dorian shared as much we do!