I had lunch with a family of friends a few weeks ago. Two of the kids are actors. The mom told this wonderful story about how she explained casting to her the oldest of the actor kids, when he started feeling let down about not being cast (because, of course, early in kid actors’ lives, most don’t even realize there’s a difference between auditioning and booking, since it’s all a chance to play make-believe). She said that she put a deck of cards face down on the table and asked her son to select one. He did. “Why did you pick that one?” she asked. “I had to make a choice, and that’s the one I picked.” She said, “Good. That’s casting.”
We went on to talk about how there is nothing wrong with the other 51 cards in the deck, it’s just a choice that has to be made and that’s how it goes! Well, a week or so later, I was having lunch with an actor friend and I shared this story. He loved it. He extended the example to include grouping the cards, face up, by suit. “Yeah,” he said, “If you put all of the diamonds together, they’re all diamonds, but they’re still all different diamonds. And that’s how it feels at an audition sometimes. You look around and see all of these people who look somewhat like you and wonder how casting will ever choose.” And then I said, “It even works with a smaller set. Like all of the aces. They’re all aces, but they’re different suits. And we have to pick one.” And doing so doesn’t mean that any of the other cards is a less-perfect ace or a less-perfect diamond or even a less-perfect card at all! We simply have to make a choice.
To take the analogy further, let’s consider that producers are building a poker hand. In this case, the cards the producer is already holding have a huge impact on which remaining cards will be the best fit for that hand. And if you could select the exact cards to round out your best hand, you’d get a more accurate-to-casting analogy. Of course, in poker, you hope for the “right cards” to come to you, but in casting, you can choose to only have diamonds come to your hand, once you know what the first few cards look like (and that diamonds are what you need for the last few).
Not all casting is a poker hand, though. Some casting is a house of cards (and it’s irrelevant what’s on either side of each card, only that it is placed at an angle that helps create a strong foundation for the rest of the cards to come). Some casting is blackjack (and you can do okay with several combinations of cards, as long as you don’t go over 21). I know that actors are human beings and therefore there are many complexities to the casting process that go into the mix, but I still really like the idea that “not being chosen” isn’t personal (and I think the deck of cards analogy works really well).
When you feel yourself taking casting personally, play a game of solitaire and ask yourself why you chose to stop shuffling when you did, causing the cards on top at that moment to be dealt out a certain way. Should the cards that are hidden under other cards take it personally that they’re “in the background” for this game? No. And neither should you, when you’re not the chosen “card.”
A Request: Headshots
I’m taking the rest of this column’s space to ask my readers to start sending in headshots again, because I’m going to do another round of “Bad Headshots, Good Headshots” since it was such a hit last year. Several actors have already volunteered to do “purposely bad” headshots as well as have their “real” headshots in the mix for this next series, but I can always use more help! Grab your digital camera and shoot some sinfully awful headshots; send over your old headshots (which you are now embarrassed to have used); or turn me on to the best, most affordable, brilliant new photographer out there. Please review the last version of this series first, to get an idea of what I’m looking to do. Then fire away! I’ve turned off the attachment-stripping filter at my Showfax email address and will be eagerly awaiting your best (and worst) examples. Thanks in advance for your willingness to share your photos with the world.
Originally published by Actors Access at http://more.showfax.com/columns/avoice/archives/000671.html. Please support the many wonderful resources provided by the Breakdown Services family. This posting is the author’s personal archive.