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July 23, 2001

ask the industry «

Submit a question for an industry pro to answer.

Question: Why is it so hard for an Indian male like me to get into the industry? Sometimes I feel they discriminate? Is it true? What does a casting director look for in an actor? Looks or talent? --Bhairav

Answer: Oh, Bhairav, I feel for you!

It's so hard to be anything other than what EVERYONE else is, in the flavor of the month-loving industry that is this one. People who are very much the type you're sure you see on screen all the time may lament the fact that there are no roles for them, just because they have blue eyes instead of brown, or because they are 5'10" instead of 6'1".

Casting directors are known for saying that they "know it when they see it." Producers, writers, and directors will communicate to the casting directors their needs and sometimes they won't do so in concrete terms. Sometimes they'll describe qualities, rather than physical traits, and it becomes the casting director's job to bring a variety of types to the callback for the others to see.

As Donna Ekholdt, Senior Vice President of Talent Development and Casting for Big Ticket Television, once told me, "Casting is like cooking. And I'm a master chef, trying out all sorts of ingredients until I find the right blend of flavors." Many times, a casting director will think she needs one flavor, but then she learns the director has chosen a different flavor than originally anticipated. Well, that shifts the whole recipe, and there's another need to fill.

Flexibility is a job requirement of a good casting director. So, to answer your question about what they look for, it's talent, it's a look, it's a vibe, it's chemistry with the other actors in the scene, and it's a connection to the material.

So, do good work, get your resumé the best-looking it can be, make sure your headshot is excellent, and then build those relationships. Good work gets noticed. And believe me, everyone is saying "now is the time" for minority groups to get that long-overdue notice. Non-traditional casting is becoming the norm--and that's great news for you!


Casting QsBonnie Gillespie is a Los Angeles casting columnist, the owner of Cricket Feet Management, and the author of Casting Qs: A Collection of Casting Director Interviews.

Posted by bonnie at 4:43 PM | Comments (0)

July 19, 2001

Call Me!

There is a shared moment in which we are all out of control. We sit, strapped into our overpriced seats, inside an illogically massive transportation device, and we just let go. We have no choice.

We may control the climate with those efficient and effective fish-eye air holes. We may control the light cast upon our reading material. We may even control what we hear as we escape to the monophonic melodies of some forgettable recording artist.

Can I control whether you'll talk to me, your neighbor at 30,000 feet? Nope. Can I control whether I'll speak English when you do talk to me? You betcha.

No matter how many calls you've made from your cell phone prior to boarding, no matter how many times you've opened your laptop at the gate, there is a moment, corporate wannabe, when you can do nothing but think - not do. Takeoff is the great equalizer.

Yesterday I went for my smog check - or what is called in every other state an emissions inspection. The technician struck up a conversation with me about cell phones - and how he doesn't understand, when he comes to work at 5am, who all these other people on the road are talking to - and why it can't wait until they stop driving. Just then, a cabbie drove up, cell phone firmly attached to ear, and the technician gestured toward him as if to say, "See?"

He told me he'd lived in this country for 13 years and didn't have a cell phone. I quickly did inventory: cell phone, pager, voicemail, palm pilot, laptop, desktop, ber-access.

So, I went on cell phone hiatus. I waited patiently at the ARCO station, knowing I could make the ten phone calls in my mental outbox in an hour when I returned home.

Today, as I sit at LAX, awaiting a flight that leaves six hours after the flight on which I was booked, I feel smugly judgmental as each passerby makes an urgent, too-good-for-a-pay-phone call, rather than talking with their travel companions. And, sadly, I realize how much work I could've gotten done, had I my cell phone with me today.

Instead, I've read, I've written, I've talked (with humans right here at the airport with me), I've consolidated my many lists, and I've flirted with a boy way too young for me - but who was just served a beer, so he can't be that young.

Oh, I'd get into much less trouble if I had my cell phone. But would I have enjoyed my day at the Museum of Modern Travel?

Posted by bonnie at 1:57 PM

July 5, 2001

Top 17.4 Ways To Piss Me Off

Why would I want to write an article about the things that piss me off? Aren't I just arming the masses with the best ammo that way? Well, here's my theory: this list already does exist somewhere out there. It must, otherwise people who say they love me - as well as complete strangers - wouldn't keep doing these things. I figure, the list is out there, and its title has been changed to "Things Bonnie Loves, So Keep It Up" or something.

Since you all mean well, I'm sure, I'm going to take this opportunity to show the list, in its entirety, and explain why said items are on the list.

1. Punctuate Incorrectly. Let's get it straight: y'all is a contraction of the words YOU and ALL, not YA and WILL. '70s is the proper shortening of 1970s. See, the apostrophe goes where the 19 once was. Quit writing "Did ya'll see That 70's Show?" or I will have to kill you.

2. Be Anal About the "I Before E" Rule. Remember, there is that part about "except after C" - like in received. Also, it's WEIRD, not WIERD. It just is. Look it up.

3. Pronounce Common Words Incorrectly. It's supposedly -- see the D in there? No B. It's supposedly. I guess I just figure, if it's been a joke on "Friends," everyone should be doing it right by now. Sheesh. Now, one exception to this rule is if you're doing that cool hipster-speak thing like Katy [HorridScope] does. That's effin' coolio, y'know?

4. Be Redundant. Make ATM "ATM Machine." Make PIN "PIN Number." Make SAT "SAT Test." Make HIV "the HIV Virus." For the love of God, people, what do you think the letters in the acronyms stand for?

5. Write in Ricki Lakese. I know it SOUNDS like "would of" but it's "would have." I know it SOUNDS like "alright" but it's "all right." I don't care if you say it wrong, just make sure, when you write it down, you get it right (except in the case of item number three, and then I do care if you say it wrong). Oh, and that reminds me, it's EXCEPT, not ACCEPT, when used like I just did right there. Of course, I reserve the right to change the spelling of words like CRAP to KEY-WRAP and YEA to YAY. I know YEA is correct, but YAY just seems to really capture the mood better.

6. Ask Me if I Know What You Mean. Listen. I'm not an idiot. If I need you to clarify what you just said, I will ask you to do so. You do not need to follow every statement with the question, "Do you know what I mean?" just so I'll nod or respond or somehow interact with you. I'm not ignoring you if I'm silent after you speak. I'm thinking. Well, that or listing all of the grammatical errors you just made.

7. Take Me Personally. See, every time I mention item number six, Joni [of Entertainment News? fame] busts on me for making fun of her. She loves to ask if I know what she means. She's been doing it for twenty years. She's allowed. Now, if she takes number six personally, I'm gonna have to smack her! It's like that Jeff Goldblum sketch in Saturday Night Live with Rob Schneider. Rob's homeless and playing a guitar, yet he yells at Jeff with each donation. "I'm not looking for your pity! I don't need your money!" Then he sings, "This isn't just a song. I really need the money." This is not one of those times, Joni. For everyone else, every one of these items is about you.

8. Create Increments that Don't Exist. When the radio station has a contest and the DJ says he wants the 98.7th caller, I almost drive my car up a building. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS 7/10 OF A CALLER. Yes, I know this article is called Top 17.4 Ways to Piss Me Off... it's a joke. I get it. Item eight also applies to saying things like 110%. Now, you can have an increase of 110% but there is no such thing as "Giving 110%." Coaches, take note.

9. Say "awholenother." This has always bothered me. I understand that certain phrases and terms make their way into everyday conversation and in fact join the ranks of the dictionary listings. Still, when I see a film or TV show in which someone says awholenother, I scream. See, somewhere, in print, there was a script for that scene, and I can't imagine someone actually typing AWHOLENOTHER. In fact, I'm queasy just having typed it three times myself.

10. Take up 2 Parking Spots. I have a tiny car. So, if you take up a spot and a half, I don't really care. I'll fit. But you stupid SUV owners who think you'd better park at an angle to protect your baby from dings, don't be surprised if you find me parked under you. Yeah, that'll show you! Okay, I guess I've got no pull on that one. I'll let it go.

11. Ignore Instructions. I get notices for jobs every day. These are not job lists, but actual friends and associates looking for help doing such and such, and I am too busy right now to take on another new client. What do I do? I forward the email, along with originating sender contact information, to my many friends in search of work. What do they do? Email me, "Oh, Bonnie, this sounds PERFECT for me. Do you want me to attach my resumé? Oh, I think I just will, so that you can review it and tell me when I can interview. Oh, I also have a friend who's interested in that job you emailed me about last week [which frickin' one?]. Could you call her and give her all the details?" Forget a reference, my friend. It's like that test they gave in the third grade about reading all instructions before doing a single item. Last item says, "ignore all other items, sign your name at the top of this page, and turn it in." I think every one of my friends failed that test. Sigh.

12. Forward Urban Myths and Chain Emails. I think I have reached my tolerance level on this one. I used to say to people who complained about forwards, "Hey, you have a delete icon. Use it." Well, now I'm getting pretty antsy. I guess I've been online long enough now to have seen every single thing no fewer than eight times. Tell ya what: Bill Gates sends you that check for $100,000 for forwarding that email to a million people, you give me a call.

13. Make a Stupid Slogan for Your Product. Advertisers, get it straight: there are people out here who really, really, really want to throw something at the TV when you choose to be stupid. Psycho would insist that this includes hiring Blue Man Group as your pitchmen. I would say, a much more egregious fault is advertising tampons, then using the tag line, "So comfortable! You can't even feel them." THEM?!? HOW MANY ARE YOU PUTTING IN? Jesus!

14. Act Shocked When I Answer the Phone. Yes, I never answer the phone. That is true. Well, almost true. Sometimes I do. When I do, should you greet me with, "Oh my God! You answered the phone," from here on out, I pledge to hang up on your ass and block your number forever. End of topic.

15. Say "No Comment." Got a newsflash for ya: "No Comment" is, in fact, a comment.

16. Be Fake. Here's my favorite: you come to me, with your fake nails, your fake tan, your fake boobs, and you ask me, "Do you dye your hair?" Bitch, please! In the interest of full disclosure, I do use a rinse that washes out (so it says on the box) in 24 shampoos. I use that about once every nine months or so, when I feel like my hair looks drab. Last time I did it, I ended up using my exact natural color. Yes, I am brilliant. I know.

17. Take Me Seriously. This is just venting, folks, and, yes, I guess it goes along with item number seven, but get over it. The other day, as I was doing my Nurse Bonnie duties, Dawn asked, "This is going to end up in a column, isn't it?" Yep, it is. It always is. If you're in my life, you're out, baby. So, if you take yourself too seriously to be written about, you'd better let me know that before you do anything interesting in front of me.

I just realized I've become my 10th grade History teacher. He was such a meanie to everyone in class that, on the first day, he asked for anyone who didn't want to be made fun of to slip him a little note on that day, or else he'd consider them fair game for the whole quarter. Hmm... I'm different in a good way, though: I won't make fun of 15-year-olds. Too fragile. See what it did to me?

Posted by bonnie at 1:59 PM