From Start To Stardom
Behind The Scenes

Tips On Becoming An Actor From Top Hollywood Casting Director

The-Benefits-Of-LavenderWe’ve tallied up your questions for Lisa London, a seasoned casting director who casts for Kimberly’s show Hit The Floor.

There were so many good questions, and we narrowed them down to those that were most relevant to the majority of people interested in a career in acting.

Lisa and her partner Catherine Stroud have a casting career that spans over twenty-five years. The team has cast many notable actors and actresses early in their careers, including Miley Cyrus, Jonah Hill, Emma Stone and Katharine McPhee, Selena Gomez, and Jennifer Aniston in her first feature.

Lisa recently wrote a fantastic book on the subject called From Start to Stardom, and it was an honor to be able to be a liaison for all of you and bring her your questions as you pursue your dream.

 

Tips On Becoming An Actor From Top Hollywood Casting Director

 

KimberlyElise.com: Lisa, why did you decide to write From Start to Stardom?

Lisa: Bottom line, because I love actors and I wanted to help them. I get asked all the time from parents, kids, teens and adults question after question about how to get started in acting. I decided I would put it all down in a book to answer all their questions and to help them reach their goals.

From Start To Stardom

Kimberly Elise and casting director Lisa London – Photo Source: KimberlyElise.com

KimberlyElise.com: A lot of actors are terrified of casting directors because they see them as the gate keepers to their dreams and their future. This fear follows them into the audition room. Can you address this fear so many actors carry.

Lisa: The reality is when an actor comes in and does a really good job, it makes us both look good!  I want you to do well. I look at us, the actor and me the casting director, as a team and together we are collaborating to show the producers and director the best you there is to offer for the part. Actors shouldn’t be afraid of casting directors, we want to help you!
 

KimberlyElise.com: How prepared should an actor be at an audition? Should I have all my lines memorized?

Lisa: As far as memorization goes, you should be prepared and know the lines well enough so that if  I, the producer or  the director gives you direction, you can change up your reading without having to think about what your next line is.

When you come in for a pre-read (the initial audition for the casting director) you don’t have to have it totally memorized, it’s no problem to have the script in your hand to refer to if you need to. But as you progress in the audition process and perhaps have a screen test for a part, you should definitely have the scenes completely memorized.

Remember, part of acting is reacting, so you don’t want to have your head buried in the script and then I can’t see how you are playing off the dialog or another actor. The more familiar you are with the material, the freer you will feel in your audition and the more opportunity you will have to show me your talent.
 

 KimberlyElise.com: Should I wear a costume?

Lisa: A hint, a suggestion of costume for the character is plenty. If you are coming in to read for a surgeon, don’t come in wearing full scrub gear, with a scalpel and plastic gloves. But if you are coming in to read for a lawyer, it would be a good idea to wear a suit as opposed to jeans and a t-shirt.

A hint of the character in your wardrobe helps the director or producer visualize you in the world of that character. But no need to go overboard with it-too much costume, in fact, can be a distraction and take away from your reading.
 

KimberlyElise.com: What if I mess up, is it okay to start over?

Lisa:  If you mess up and  feel like you really didn’t do the creative choices  you wanted to make, its ok to ask to do it again and if the casting director has the time, they will let you. But, make sure you actually do the scene differently, please don’t do it the same! Now, if you make a mistake on a word or stumble, just keep going. Save the request for a do over if you felt your whole choice was off.
 

KimberlyElise.com: If I don’t get the part I auditioned for, will you remember me for other projects you are casting?

Lisa: Absolutely. That’s why I tell actors to give every audition 100 percent of their focus and to really go for because you never know what I will be casting next. You may not be right for this one role,but you may be perfect for the next one! Or the next! Make every audition count.
 

KimberlyElise.com: I live in a really small town. Do you have to live in Los Angeles or New York to break into acting?

Lisa: If you live in a little town and there are no acting opportunities there, you may have to go to the next big neighboring city.

You can go out to Los Angeles or New York for a couple of months and see what it’s like. But in this day and age, even if you live in a small town, if you are tuned in to acting opportunities,you will hear about auditions that you can submit yourself  to over the internet.

I don’t advise just jumping to the big city, however,  instead I think it’s important to really take advantage of what your small town has to offer- be it in local theater or acting classes- so you can better hone your skills and prepare yourself before making that big move.

KimberlyElise.com: How does one find a reputable agent or manager?

Lisa:  Rule number one, an agent or manager doesn’t take any money from you until you book a job. You NEVER have to give money upfront to legitimate representation.

If they ask, turn and walk away. You can contact the actor’s union, SAG-AFTRA, to find the names of the union affiliated representatives in your area – that’s a great resource to start with.  http://www.sagaftra.org
 

KimberlyElise.com: Have you seen more desire by studio/producers to cast more diversity in their programming?

Lisa:  Definitely! There are so many shows with African American, Native American, Asian, Hispanic, and actors of all colors. You see more and more with each new television season.

It’s very exciting to me! I am seeing more and more studios and directors and producers making a concerted effort to create shows that reflect the diverse human experience that we have.
 

KimberlyElise.com:   Lastly, Lisa what is the ultimate thing that the casting director is looking for when an actor walks into an audition?

Lisa:  I am looking for an actor to show me both their talent AND personality. I want to see who you are as a person – I want to see your natural personality shine through just as much as I want to see what your talent is.

Thank you to all who submitted such great questions. We enjoyed taking them to Lisa for you. It was really wonderful to sit down and talk to Lisa, such a positive source of information on pursuing your dreams.

But, really, this is just the tip of the iceberg. If you are serious about your dream of being an actor and how to make it a reality, we highly encourage you to pick up Lisa’s book, From Start to Stardom.

In the book, she covers every possible aspect of how to become a successful working actor in the business.

Now, go live your dream!!

You can buy Lisa’s book On her website or at amazon.com or in Los Angeles at Samuel French bookstore!

Follow Lisa London on instagram: fromstarttostardom and lisalondoncasting; twitter: start2stardom and llondoncasting; and Facebook: From start to stardom

 

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38 Comments

  • Reply
    Pauline Heath
    January 12, 2015 at 11:55 pm

    Great post! Thanks for the tips. I really want to be an actress, and this post give me some insight. This really helps. I have also read an article like this here http://goo.gl/GUgNmd. Try to check it out guys, for additional tips.

  • Reply
    Chylawn Jackson
    September 30, 2014 at 8:04 am

    Thank you, Kimberly for a great post! Thank you, Lisa for sharing this VALUABLE information and published this PRICELESS RESOURCE!

  • Reply
    Carolyn Davenport
    September 24, 2014 at 5:28 pm

    Thanks for all the valuable information! I would like to submit for a chance to win Lisa’s book “From Start to Stardom”

  • Reply
    Valerie
    September 21, 2014 at 4:49 am

    I would love to receive a copy of Lisa London’s book. I live in a small town and her book would help me to understand this field better and find more acting opportunities.

  • Reply
    Cynthia Snipes
    September 16, 2014 at 10:11 am

    I am glad that there’s a book on how to be successful in the acting world. I think it would very beneficial for all of us. Thank You so much.

  • Reply
    Candy
    September 14, 2014 at 9:48 pm

    Great advice! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  • Reply
    Melissa Gather
    September 14, 2014 at 10:54 am

    Thank you for your inspiring stories. I would love to win this book for my daughter. It would give us information to help her move one step closer to achieve her dreams!!!

  • Reply
    Sharhonda Roberts
    September 14, 2014 at 9:36 am

    Thank you very much for the information. Hopefully we will get to meet face to face one day soon and I can thank you both in person.

  • Reply
    Freta Rogers-Mason
    September 14, 2014 at 8:02 am

    My daughter really wants to be an actor but it seems so hard to get into this industry without first getting burned by con artists. I would love to receive a copy of this book to gain more insight!

    Kimberly, I think you are an awesome actress!!!

  • Reply
    Tisha Lynch
    September 14, 2014 at 7:14 am

    I am interested in acting. I don’t know the first thing about getting in, but if given a chance

  • Reply
    cynthia meyers
    September 14, 2014 at 3:57 am

    I’m looking for a miracle,, 🙂

  • Reply
    samuel harris jr [Leumas]
    September 13, 2014 at 7:12 pm

    The aim to reveal a young person’s God’s Unlimited Potential within the Acting area of Life’s endeavor. Well it is the best for those who are truly interested. I found Acting as a goal as presenting to an audience the mood of drudgery, violence and laughter about ourselves, some of the same thing witnessed each and every day. But when you arrive at home and turn on the T.V. set. The manner of skill and talent which circumstances or situations are delivered which laughter, relief of drudgery or stand up and be courageous where violence appears, takes the viewer away from the monotony of day today living. With the things faced all the time are made to have he or she feel good about life, themselves or and others the actor or actress has demonstrated well put together training – and thus is a performer. 2nd to Gov’t occupations on the charts of extreme most focused upon by the public then fashion and so on business. Keep up the Good Work Love’ya

  • Reply
    Niya Densmore
    September 13, 2014 at 5:43 pm

    Wow. I love how you and lisa are helping inspiring actors out here. You guys are truly amazing! Kimberly you are a great actress. I hope to one day be as good as you. Lisa is sooo cool for mqking a book that help inspiring actors. 🙂

  • Reply
    Andrea
    September 13, 2014 at 6:26 am

    Thank you so much for the information. It was very inspiring. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me…..

  • Reply
    Izeghode J Esoimeme
    September 13, 2014 at 5:31 am

    Your incredible in all your work just wanted to let you know. Thanks and have a great day

  • Reply
    Kuan ya Washington
    September 13, 2014 at 5:08 am

    thank you for coming out with a book lion from a beautiful strong African American woman who has been around for quite some time in the theater and participation is really astounding and breathtaking I think you so much for a loan us to share your insight and your knowledge on how to get our children into such a business.

  • Reply
    Tiffanie Ro
    September 13, 2014 at 4:46 am

    You are amazing, I remembered you in beloved and have followed you since. I’m loving the new show! Congrats! I’m a woman of a certain age but I’ve always had that acting bug in me! And I feel that life is short and true dreams sometimes have to wait but they never fade! I look forward in reading this book and receiving the jewels this author has to share! Blessings to you and all your endeavors!

  • Reply
    Shalisha Edwards
    September 12, 2014 at 7:04 pm

    How I become an actress

  • Reply
    Cortnee Love
    September 12, 2014 at 6:54 pm

    I really enjoyed Lisa’s interview. I found it extremely helpful and I’m looking forward to purchasing this book. As an actor that is just starting out I felt her answers were very honest and helpful. It’s refreshing to read interviews like this that help me as an actor feel more relaxed and understanding of the auditioning process. Thanks a lot!

  • Reply
    EDWARD J WILLIAMS JR
    September 12, 2014 at 6:30 pm

    U R BEAUTIFUL!

  • Reply
    Vickey
    September 12, 2014 at 5:22 pm

    I love the fact that you’re willing to share the how to make it and not be one that’s selfish or hold a person down when if you could reach even one then so be!!!
    God bless the heart of a giver for your reward is greater!

  • Reply
    Stella Starr
    September 12, 2014 at 5:17 pm

    I would love to have a copy of From Star To Stardom I am sure I will find it very valuable

    • Reply
      Stella Starr
      September 12, 2014 at 5:20 pm

      It’s always good to find valuable information

  • Reply
    Victoria Ariyo
    September 12, 2014 at 4:30 pm

    Really helpful…thanks a lot

  • Reply
    Victoria Ariyo
    September 12, 2014 at 4:29 pm

    really helpful…thanks a lot:)

  • Reply
    Tiffany Cotton
    September 12, 2014 at 2:21 pm

    I would love to be able to receive this book. I admire you as an actress and person. (You’re also my natural hair crush:) ) I have my BFA in Professional Theatre and my MFA in Acting. I have had auditions since graduating in 2011. I would love more tips to help me book a gig. Thanks for the possibility! Please pick me!!

  • Reply
    Ziara
    September 12, 2014 at 2:07 pm

    Thank you so much for taking the time to write these tips. I really appreciate it and hope I can be just like you one day.

  • Reply
    Sonya Edwards
    September 12, 2014 at 1:48 pm

    I love ur site 4 info&recipes:-) Would love to win the book 4 my children. Have an AWESOME wkend:-*

  • Reply
    Cedrick Cain
    September 12, 2014 at 1:27 pm

    This was interesting. I’m always on the go looking for agents, this book will definitely help me!

  • Reply
    Tiffany Mitchell
    September 12, 2014 at 1:01 pm

    Hello there, it’s me Tiffany!!! I have enjoyed watching you grow as an actress and a strong black women. The best is yet to come for you and your family. Stay blessed love you and keep up the awesome work!!! Can’t wait to grow up and be just like you.

  • Reply
    Tammi Daniels
    September 12, 2014 at 12:29 pm

    Speaking roll auditions, I find it so hard to get auditions. i always see the Extra rolls but true audtions for speaking rolls are so hard to come by. not trying to be a millionaire just trying to live my dream. Where can you begin to find tru7e auditions with true speaking rolls.
    Without paying a fortune in fees.

  • Reply
    tremishia Turner
    September 12, 2014 at 12:28 pm

    First let me say I love your character on hit the floor, I was so excited to see you in another project. I am inspiring to be an actress and it’s not easy accomplishing that from Houston. I would love to have this book so that I can gather the information needed to make my dreams come true

  • Reply
    Cynthia Josma
    September 12, 2014 at 12:05 pm

    I hope I win Lisa London’s book From Start to Stardom

  • Reply
    Niki Patton
    September 12, 2014 at 12:05 pm

    U are such an amazing spirit. U shine thru ur eyes when u speak to ppl,so inspiring,so positive and such a pleasure to watch. Not only am I a fan of yours but my daughter absolutely admire u. God says we’re not to worship or praise man so instead we thank him for u. Someone that we can enjoy both on screen and off. Someone that we know if u can do it so can we. U are a voice for us as women and as a black woman I thnku for showing the intelligent,aspiring,ambitious side of us and who we are. Kimberly Elise u are a Phenominal woman

  • Reply
    cynthia meyers
    September 12, 2014 at 7:21 am

    I’ve always wanted to be an actress and a model, when i was lil girl i used to ask my mom to take me to auditions,, i tried and tried

  • Reply
    Jada Howard
    September 11, 2014 at 3:37 pm

    Im 43 years old and trying to break into the acting world. Thanks for the Lisa London questions and answers. I would love to win the book.

  • Reply
    Rickeshia Clarke
    September 11, 2014 at 9:17 am

    I really enjoyed this, thank you Kimberly Elise

  • Reply
    Katrina Foster-Tarver
    September 11, 2014 at 8:59 am

    Thank you for those very helpful questions and answers. I am currently training to become an actress and need any and all help.

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