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Interview with Carol Goldwasser part 3

Interview with CD Carol Goldwasser, Part 3

This is the final installment of my 3 part “In the Moment” interview with Award Winning Disney casting Director, Miss Carol Goldwasser. The wonderful thing about Carol’s insights in this interview that separate her from others, is her realistic approach to working with and getting the most from child actors. Not that her comments aren’t relevant to actors of all ages. It’s nice to know that she sees the extra special care needed when drawing out the best performances from kids and teens. Especially when the child actors and teen actors are often the most free. Enjoy the interview. I know I did.

Diane: Welcome Carol, it is so good to have you here for the second of our 3 part interview today.

Diane: How is casting Kids and Teens different from casting adults?

Carol: You really have to give them more leeway and more coaching. A question that I get asked a lot when I teach is “would you give that same redirection in an audition room?” And my answer is usually, “it depends on how many people I have in the waiting room and how interested I am.” You really have to give kids the benefit of the doubt. You have to guide them along. Adults, hopefully, have come through a conservatory program or an acting program and will come in having made certain choices; you’re physically right or wrong, or you’re funny, or not the right quality or you are the right quality. I have to be more flexible with kids and lead them by the nose. When you direct them they will understand and take your direction but they don’t necessarily come in with the choices so I have to give them a lot more room to find it. Casting is a compromise as is, it’s not going to be exactly what the producers and writers envision. As a casting director you have to let them know that. Maybe an actor doesn’t have all of the elements of what you envisioned the character to have, but he’s 14! Can we make some adjustments to what he brings in the room? Can we put him with a coach and coach him through the testing process? On one of my pilots we had to do just that. There was an actor that we felt had 80% of the qualities for the role but he definitely needed work on his acting skills because it was a role that required not only acting skills, but singing skills and dancing skills and instrumental skills. We had him work with a coach through the audition process. We really had to take it home. This has happened on more than one project. You really have to work with them to get them there, especially for a series where you are banking on this person’s ability to perform and have the appeal to get the audience. It’s not just one episode. You are trying to build the skill or get them to a place where you see that this is someone who is going to bring viewers in for 3 seasons. It sounds like a very daunting process but it is actually fun! The whole process of playing comedy and learning comedy is a lot of fun. If it’s something that you’re interested in you should take advantage of all the training that’s out there, both online and in person. And you know, jump in and see what you can get from it!

D: I agree! Training, training, training and some more training.

C: Yes! Training is so important. Auditions are pressurized situations and if you are in your class on a weekly basis, when you go in for an audition you think “this is what I do. I say words. I enact a character.” It doesn’t feel as if you’re so invested or freaked out in that one situation because this is what you do on a weekly basis. You’re open to taking direction because it’s what you do in your classes every week.

D: And collaborating and making choices and all of the things that Actors of all ages need to do.

C: Exactly.

D: I want to thank Carol Goldwasser on behalf of all of us because I’m sure that there’s so much that we’ve all learned here today. She’s a wonderful resource for really knowing how to audition for Children’s television. So tune in next time and thank you so much for joining us! We’ll see you at Diane Christiansen Coaching. Give us a call! www.DianeChristiansen.com

Interview with Carol Goldwasser Part 2

Interview with CD Carol Goldwasser, Part 2

After 22 years of teaching and an equal number of years working in the Entertainment Industry, I thought I knew quite a bit about casting. Additionally, we have guest CD’s in for our monthly casting director workshop, Actors Platform, at our studios and we learn a tremendous amount about what goes on in the audition room. But Carol really has some great new information in this interview. Actors of all ages ~ LISTEN UP ~ this one you do not want to miss, because Carol has some very valuable information to share in regards to the casting process that even I didn’t know!!


Diane: Welcome Carol, it is so good to have you here for the second of our 3 part interview today.

Carol: Thank you for having me.

Diane: When a young actor comes in to audition for you, does their talent, their resume or their look matter the most?

Carol: Most of the time, when a young actor, say 5 to 8 years old comes in, because I do have to cast actors that young, their credits don’t matter. They could have only done some print or a commercial, then if I see a talented 5 or 8 year old, as long as they have a look, or a funny personality or a quality that works, then we’ll cast them. When I’m casting teens, 12 to 14, L.A. is a competitive market, and I will look at their resumes to see if they have done any other comedy TV shows in town. I’ll see “Oh, well so and so cast her on this or that, and I will notice” Because there are other Casting Directors in town whose work I respect, and I will take note. But if it’s one line, say a cheerleader, if she has the right look and can execute the line as it was written, then it will be equally about the look and the delivery.

D: What is a NO NO in the casting office?

C: Don’t touch the casting director! I mean, I work with kids and teens of all ages and now and then, a young child will want to give me a hug at the end, I don’t worry about that, that’s harmless. But if sometimes, experienced adult actors come in and get down and start acting out a part of a love scene with me, I’ll be like, “No no, you don’t go kissing the casting director on the ear”. That’s a NO NO! You know, I get asked about my pet peeves a lot. One of mine is when an actor comes in and says, “I just got this”. Which, to me, sounds like me and my office didn’t get it to them in time to adequately prepare. If an actor just got this, then everyone else in the waiting room just got this because WE just got it because the writers did a rewrite overnight. So, everyone’s in the same boat and if an actor comes into a Producers session and says “I just got this”, I have to do an internal eye roll, because the feeling is like a DIS to the casting director. Unfortunately, auditioning is part of the job and preparing on short notice is part of the job and when you get on set, you’ll get revisions every day, so you have to be fast on your feet, that’s what you get paid for. It’s not like theatre, where you get 8 to 10 weeks of rehearsal, you get line when you get to set, and you have to be quick. So, that’s a NO NO.

D: Would you encourage or discourage props at an audition?

C: Most of the time I don’t like them because I feel like it takes away from the actor. If the audition becomes about the coffee cup and not the actor. One exception I would say would be in a phone scene, it’s more distracting to see an actor mime a phone than to use one. Because phone scenes are so common now, that when an actor says “Can I use my phone?’ I say yes because it looks weirder to not use it than not to use it. But don’t bring in any bananas, or Frisbees, or fire hoses!!

D: How do you feel about miming in an audition?

C: As long as I don’t feel like I’m watching Marcel Marceau, I’m fine with it. If people are doing a little bit of business in a scene, to support the scene, then I’m fine with it, as long as they’re finding the balance between the action and the dialogue. It can be distracting when it becomes more about the miming and not the communication. There are certain scenes that seem to require it, I mean, I haven’t worked on anything like this for awhile, but when I was casting Medical dramas and things like that, when there’s a lot of business going on in a scene, it seems like you need to add some movement to make that scene live, whether or not it is a little bit of action or exact movements. If it’s single camera, people become so used to staying in frame, they are very still. We will actually encourage people to enter and exit in and out of frame because when we shoot on set, it’s in front of an audience and we are going to see that actor move and at the audition, if they are framed very tightly, then they get on set and we see them walk, and if that actor walks funny, we’re like “OMG we don’t want to see that”, so I do think it’s important to add some movement in the audition.

Interview with Carol Goldwasser

In the Moment: Interview with Children’s Network Casting Director Carol Goldwasser

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.

Diane Christiansen Kids & Teens

3 Guideposts to Breaking Down a Script

By: Diane Christiansen

Here are a few simple strategies to get a quick jump start on not only memorizing, but also understanding your script.

  1. Listen for the voice of your character. Read your lines aloud several times, over and over again while reading the other character lines silently. This way the only lines you hear are those of your character. After a while, you should begin to hear your character’s voice. You will begin to get a feel for the tone, cadence, and personality of your character. Try to find new ways to say the lines, using different inflections, levels of volume, and rates of speech. Continue to play and experiment until you land on a voice that resonates with the essence of who your character is.
  2. Note what is said about your character by the other characters. Take a closer look at what the other characters in the script say about your character. How do they refer to you? Do they refer to you at all? What types of adjectives or phrases are used to describe you? What is the tone of the conversation when your name comes up? All of the various ways in which your character is mentioned or not mentioned in the dialogue of the script may give you some useful hints about the type of person you are portraying.
  3. Find the most important words in each line of the script. Dissect each of your scenes line by line, marking the most important words in each line of dialogue. For your lines, this will help you to better choose moments of emphasis where you may decide to pause on or punch particular words. In addition, identifying key words in your scene partner’s lines will help you find more poignant moments to react to, thereby providing stronger motivation for your character to speak in response. This is a great exercise to improve your listening skills as an actor because it keeps you engaged in both what you are saying, as well as what is being said to you throughout the scene.
Diane Christiansen Kids & Teens

How to “Pop” at Auditions

By Diane Christiansen

Auditioning is hard. It is arguably the most difficult aspect of acting. The actor’s imagination must be at it’s sharpest during the audition. You must be able to walk into a bare room and completely transform the environment and energy of the space, leaving an indelible impression on your observers. In other words, you need to “Pop” at every audition. Here are a few pointers to help you get poppin’.

  1. Treat each audition like it’s the first rehearsal. You know that excited feeling you get during your first rehearsal for a production? The security of knowing that you’ve already landed the role allows you to just relax, have fun, and be creative. You might find yourself taking chances and playing with new choices until you land on one that feels right. This is the same worry-free abandon that you need to bring to the audition. Think of it less as an interview and more as a collaboration between you and whoever is in the room. Go into the audition knowing that you have already done the necessary preparation of your character and be ready to play with your fellow collaborators. Not only will your positive energy be infectious, but you will also give a better performance as a result of swapping the audition tension for first rehearsal enthusiasm.
  2. Find opportunities for nuance. Think fine point details rather than sweeping brush strokes. Finding moments to make your own unique mark on your character will speak volumes in your performance. Don’t overlook the obvious choices readily evident in the script, but also look deeper into the subtext behind the written words. You may discover alternate interpretations of the lines that only you will find based on your own personal experiences and perspective. As a result, you can make the material your own by bringing an interpretation that only you can to the audition. Whether your interpretation is consistent with what the director wants is less important (at least on the first read) than making a committed and nuanced choice that will leave an impression different from anyone else.
  3. Take control of your audition. From the moment you walk into the room, let it be known that this is not your first rodeo. Be a professional. Be confident (or at least fake it!). Greet each person in the room as you enter and say thank you to everyone as you leave. Feel free to set parameters to get you in the proper mind space for your reading. Let your observers know if you need to take moment before you begin and if you will sit or stand (if the option is yours). Make eye contact with each person at some point while you are in the room, so that every individual there knows that you have seen them and so you know that they have each seen you too. Remember, over the course of a full day of auditions, it can become increasingly difficult for casting to distinguish one person from the next. Auditions may start to run together as fatigue sets in and attention wanes. You have the opportunity to fight against the monotony that casting may experience by making a specific connection and giving them something interesting about you to remember. Of course, your performance should be memorable all on it’s own; however, given two equally great performances from different actors, your personality, poise, and professionalism may break the tie. Talent is certainly a prerequisite for the best roles, but people also have to like you and want to work with you. So steer the course of your audition to ensure that you are being represented in your best light.

Actors – Moving Past Challenges to Success

by: Diane Christiansen

Show business is a very uncertain path that we performers have chosen. The ups and downs, successes and failures seem more prominent than most professions. When it’s good, it’s REALLY good, when it’s not, it’s mystifying, if not disheartening. What do we do when we have gone on 50 auditions without a booking? What happens when a dancer is injured and cannot perform or a singer has fried their vocal chords? I compiled a list of things that we can do that seem to lift us up so we can keep on keepin’ on, knowing that it is a perseverance game.

First, we must maintain perspective and the way to do that is like this. When you are feeling like you are getting nowhere, stop and list what you have accomplished in the last year. Literally make a list. Once you can look at your accomplishments on paper, you can begin to feel good again. You can see you have reached goals and used your time productively. This offers you some perspective.

Next, re set your goals and make sure they are do-able. Again, make a list. Then put them away for 6 months. Come back to your list after 6 months and see how many you have accomplished. Cross them off. If some have not been achieved, re state them, declare them so, and add them to a new list.

Above all, have fun. Acknowledge yourself for even the small steps and show yourself some gratitude. Gratitude is another great way to stay on track.

How to be a Child Actor: Does Your Kid Have What It Takes?

I’d like to address the most commonly asked question that Parents of young Actors ask me; “Does my child have what it takes to make it as an Actor in Hollywood?” This is almost like me asking you, ‘Do you have what it takes to make it as a parent in the World?’ Not easy to answer is it? I would almost have to be a God to answer that question. If I were some sort of Deity, I might say something like this… Read more