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Inside Job

The Importance of Diversity and Discovery in the Audition Room

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The Importance of Diversity and Discovery in the Audition Room
Photo Source: Francine Deveta

New York–based Liz Ortiz-Mackes is the owner of Casting Solutions, which casts film, TV, theater, Web, and commercial projects. She’s also a faculty member of the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, NYFA, and other institutions; an independent film producer and owner of I Ain’t Playin Films; and the author of “Ace Your Acting Audition.”

How do you discover new talent?
I go to the theater a lot. Usually I go to support somebody I know, because then by default I’ll see talent that I don’t know.

What do you wish more actors did at auditions?
That they made more choices instead of playing it safe. Find places of discovery. You go in that room and you show us that you’re discovering something about your relationship with the character or yourself, and that engages us. Make it one of your objectives to take us on a journey.

On the importance of diversity in casting:
What I see out the window I want to see in art—onscreen and onstage. Where I really can make a difference is that I speak up and I make the clients think. At the end of the day, I always have to honor the text and what they’re looking for. You don’t want to do nontraditional casting for the sake of it; that’s ridiculous. But I always ask, “How diverse can I get?” That’s one of my first questions, if it’s not obvious to me in the script or in the initial introduction of the project.

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