Have you ever wanted to know the ins and outs of casting Children’s TV, such as Disney or Nickelodeon shows? Well, you’ve come to the right place, because today we have the Award Winning casting director, Carol Goldwasser, here for Part I of an interview with me, Diane Christiansen, exclusively for Master Talent Teachers.
Carol’s tips for kids, teens and even adult actors are so invaluable if you really want audition advice. She has taught me a thing or two in these interviews that even I didn’t know. You can never stop learning, right?
Diane: Welcome, Carol, it’s so great to have you here, thank you for joining us.
Carol: Thank you for having me.
D: We should get started, because there is a lot that our viewers and readers want to know about casting Disney shows and you are our gal. What made you decide to cast kids and teens TV?
C: Well, it was more like the Universe decided for me. I was working more in Network Television, in comedy, with a partner, and we were looking to expand our business and we sent our casting resume to one of the Children’s Networks. We got hired on one project and then we had some fairy dust on us from that because it was a highly successful project and the work just kept coming and we never looked back. We both work solo now and the work has pursued me. It wasn’t necessarily a choice that I really pursued in a major way, but once I got into it, it felt comfortable, it feels good and I enjoy it, obviously, because I’ve kept doing it.
D: What has been your favorite project to work on?
C: Probably a Disney XD show called “I’m with the Band”. Even though it was a children’s show, it had a lot of adult series regulars. The writing was more sophisticated, but it still played to kids. It had a lot of physical comedy. It was like the 3 Stooges in a rock band. So, it was a really just a group of people who really gelled and who came to the set each day and had a lot of fun. So, I could cast adults as well as kids and teens and it was just a great experience. Interestingly, it was probably the least successful show I’ve worked on, but it was such a joy to show up to work every day. My impression was that the Network hoped that it would be a real flagship show to luring a lot of boys to that Network. They see that as the Network that attracts boys. The Disney channel being the one that’s more girl oriented and Disney XD more for boys. But, for some reason, the numbers didn’t support it continuing. I guess, even though it was joy for the adults to work on, maybe the fact that there were so many adult regulars meant that the kids couldn’t connect as much to what they were seeing on screen. That’s their formula, that the protagonists on the show are actually the same age as their audience.
D: What makes an actor stand out in the audition room?
C: When someone comes in, and this happens with kids and teens a lot, they are looking to me to give them the keys to the Kingdom. They’re looking to me to tell them this is where the joke is or this is how the character is. When someone comes in and they show ME how the character should be played and they not only find every joke on the page, but they elevate the material and they add stuff of their own that really makes the character sing. Then you’re like, “Well, my job is done”. That’s when it’s a joy and that’s what makes people stick out. When they commit to the character, they make choices – sometimes the choices are surprising, but comedy is surprise! I always think comedy is much more difficult to cast than drama because you actually have to find people who can deliver comedic material. In drama, if you look a little bit like what the Producers are seeking, you have a naturalistic acting style and you understand the rhythm of that particular writers words, then you move the exposition along. That’s pretty much what you have to do. In comedy, you have to do all that AND land a joke and in multi-camera sit com, which is the bulk of what I work on, for kids Networks, there’s a rhythm to the language and it’s not honestly naturalistic at all. It’s very theatrical. It’s much harder to come in and nail a comedy audition, I think because it requires a very specific kind of work. You have to understand what the rhythm is, understand where the jokes are and you have to have a little extra something that makes us want to watch you, that makes us want to hang with you and makes us want to turn on the TV set.
D: Like a naturally funny person.
C: Exactly. You’re right and you know you hear people say comedy can’t be taught. The elements of comedy can be taught. But if you read a page and you don’t understand “funny”, and you don’t know where the jokes are, you probably won’t be cast as a funny actor. Unfortunately. I read comedy scripts for a living, so when I read a comedy script, it’s like a road map to me. It’s like joke, joke, joke and I understand where they are. But someone who is unfamiliar with comedy material doesn’t necessarily do that. But if you have a comedy kind of mind and you have a bent for comedy, then hopefully the particular comedy gimmicks can be layered on top of a natural affinity for comedy.
To be Continued…
This has been Part I of a two-part interview with Carol Goldwasser. We wanted to thank you for joining us and invite you to stay connected at MTT for Part II. Have you subscribed yet?
Carol has had 5 nominations for Artio Awards, which are given out by the Casting Society of America (CSA). She’s won two times. Once for outstanding achievement in Children’s Casting Series programming for Hannah Montana and once for Best Children’s TV Programming, also for Hannah Montana.