Ann Baker: What Casting Directors Want From Actors

Interviewed by Lau Lapides

Ann Baker
Ann Baker
As coaches at lau lapides company, one of the most frequently asked questions we receive
from our clients is, “what do casting directors want?” and, “am I right for this part?” This lingering question has led me to want to get inside the mind of one of the most influential people for actors in New England, my dear friend and colleague, Ann Baker from Boston Casting.

Here is how she portrays her own getting ahead, “I started casting when Susan Shaw, head of casting at American Residuals and Talent, had to go to Texas with a client on a shoot, sending her out of the office for a couple of weeks. You’re talking 1977. So the business
was very different than it is now. While she was out she had mentioned to Frank Dolan, who was the producer at the theater I was working for at the time, that there wasn’t anybody to sit in her chair for the couple of weeks while she was gone. Frank recommended that I sit in for her. What started as a brief ‘stand in’ position turned into a longer stint with a future,” Ann revealed.

Jump cut to 1980 when Ann Baker Casting was formed along with my philosophy: before I call them make sure the actor can act and really take on the role, that they physically look the part, as the director/ producer requested, and their branding and packaging is consistent with their delivery and skills. Everything the actor presents needs to be in proper alignment and make sense to the decision makers. Specific questions we ask that need to be answered: Do they know what to do in front of a camera? Can they provide multiple interpretations of the character? Are they absolutely right for this role?

Ann continues, “My job is to provide my client with the absolute best available talent for the role. That’s what I get paid for. I call you in because you fit all the criteria and you’ve got the ‘stuff’ for the job. You don’t need to be nervous when you’re invited to audition; you should know at that point you’re good enough to be there. There shouldn’t be a shade of doubt in your mind about your abilities.

“Don’t come in looking to book the job. Come because you’re an actor and you have an audience. It’s not about booking the job; it’s about being a pro as you audition. Important factors at this point can make you or break you: Are you on time or better – early? Do you know how to improvise when there is no actual script? Can you answer this question: ‘So
tell me about yourself?’ Are you memorable? Have you signed in legibly so we can read what you wrote and contact you when you get the job? I want you to bring hard copies of your headshots and resumes with you at all times. Don’t forget to keep in touch with me in between auditions by sending me headshot postcards to keep me updated on all of your current projects which include: coaching, workshops, performances, and gigs you’ve booked. Don’t forget I want to be invited to see you perform! This is how I scout new talent. And always, always, always be nice and say thank you… for the audition… for our time… for the opportunity,” are her words for an actor to live by.

“Today it is about the immediacy of everything… It is both a blessing and a curse. We want to take the time to get the know you and create a long term relationship. Yet our industry is moving so fast: the casting process often moves from start to finish within a matter of hours. I want to connect with you, meet you, and see where you are right now, and watch you
get to the next level of your career. I see my job as not only a casting director, but one of a motivational guide and teacher. I want to see you improve at your craft, get hired for your skill, and ultimately achieve marketable success in your career.

“The secret lies in the training. Never, never, never stop training, no matter how good you are, no matter what age you are, no matter what, you must always be training. In training we have the ability to re-envision and reinvent who we are not only as professional actors but as human beings in the world. Training takes care of the actor’s technical tools and builds
the detailed mechanics of character development and technique.

I am so fortunate to love what I do. I have seen so much growth in this industry over the years and look forward to continued growth for years to come. We certainly have the talent and technical expertise in New England to make this happen. says Ann Baker.

Ironically, as we take a moment to get inside of Ann’s head, we know she would want actors to get outside of their heads when doing their work. Over thinking it can be a killer. Just do it to the best of your ability, with passion and dedication, and the work will come.

Currently Ann is an independent casting director working in association with Boston Casting, and teaches on camera commercial technique at the Media Performance Institute.

For more information visit www.bostoncasting.com. Lau Lapides is the owner of the lau lapides company, a studio specializing in Voice Over training and the placement of commercial talent. She is a frequent contributor to IMAGINE. Visit www.laulapidesstudio.com.

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