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There are many facets to a successful actor’s talent.
Immediately, a Casting Director notices a sense of presence and positive outlook or lack thereof. A projection of confidence and personality are imperative; both allow for a better perspective on the actors ability to deal with unfamiliar situations.
Awareness of one's self should be at the top of the list, as it helps bring fullness to a performance.
The actor’s ability to understand "what it is that we are trying to communicate" is also important. When giving a direction in order to express the concept of the client's ad, I focus in on the actor’s ability to understand this concept.
After the actors audition, directors, producers and various advertising staff review the tapes. Often, I will hear "Now that performer looks as though he (or she) understands what we are trying to get across!"
Furthermore, I look for a willingness to cooperate, not only in order to give a good performance but to make our job easier and more effective. Casting directors are in the business of finding people who understand both the creative and the business aspects. Again, it is essential to be able to present yourself with confidence, a smile on your face, and an eagerness that says, "let’s get the job done!"
Actors in commercials are spokespersons and salespeople, selling first themselves and then the product. Those who do both will get the jobs. Ultimately, the client buys the personality of the actor, and his or her ability to project the technique that guarantees an outstanding performance.
I look for professionalism; which involves having a concise, informative resume. Professionals accept the responsibilities of their craft, knowing how to tap that fine instrument within, which, if tuned and refined, can bring forth a great performance.
In summary, I look for a positive attitude, and a high energy level that indicates a strong work ethic. That is what sells! Courtesy, respect, good manners, and a knowledge/understanding of protocol are very important. Cooperation, dedication, awareness of the craft, personality and charisma -- that something special that jumps out at you and says, "This person has got it!" Ultimately, it is up to the performer to provide provide the image that others will emulate once the public has recognized his or her talents.
As you can see, casting directors are an important part of an actor's life. They do not always make the final decision as to who gets the job, but they do decide who gets to audition.