How Can I Get Seen By CDs Without an Agent?

Photo Source: Illustration: Jordan Sondler

Q: What is the best way to get seen by a casting director without an agent? Is there anything CDs look for/are particularly impressed by if you don’t have many professional credits? —Dan L., Chicago

We get it. You don’t have an agent but you desperately want to be seen and considered by a casting director. And maybe because you want it so badly, you think there must be some magic side door that can make it happen. You assume that industry experts would know the location of that side door, but here’s the truth: There is no side door. The only answer is that talent eventually gets seen.

Casting directors are looking for it. It’s their job. And they look for it in all kinds of places: theaters, online, short films, their kid’s talent show—everywhere. They’re obsessed with finding it.

So, what is talent? Casting directors look for an actor who is bold, unapologetic, and all about the work. They call that “confident.” They’re not interested in an actor who needs hand-holding, affirmation, validation, or even direction. What’s attractive—seductive, even—is an actor who’s in love with the work and brings that love into the room. An actor who is out there working because she has to, an actor who is making his own short film because it excites him to no end, an actor who is living the life of an actor every day.

Those actors make themselves known because they’re acting. They’re not waiting for their agent to call, they’re not sitting on the couch eating nachos and playing video games, they’re not complaining to their co-workers at the restaurant that they can’t get seen for a show. They’re spending that energy in the work: doing it, making it, devouring it. Those actors excite casting directors. Those actors attract the industry. Those actors earn careers.

So don’t spend a second looking for the side door when you could spend that second writing, shooting, and posting your own work. The work is the door. Take every opportunity to work, whether it’s theater, student films, friends’ webisodes, or your own work. Doing so will make sure you keep getting better and increase your chances of getting seen. In fact, stop reading this and go make something!

Risa Bramon Garcia is a director, casting director, co-owner of The BGB Studio and a Backstage Expert. For more information, check out Bramon Garcia’s full bio!

Steve Braun is an L.A.-based acting coach, actor, co-owner of The BGB Studio, and a Backstage Expert. For more information, check out Braun’s full bio!

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The views expressed in this article are solely that of the individual(s) providing them, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Backstage or its staff.

Risa Bramon Garcia
For the past 40 years, Risa has worked as a director, producer, casting director, and teacher. Having directed two features—including “200 Cigarettes”—she has also directed for TV and dozens of plays in New York and Los Angeles. Her casting résumé includes more than 80 feature films and shows, and includes “Desperately Seeking Susan,” “Fatal Attraction,” “JFK,” “The Joy Luck Club,” “The Affair,” “Masters of Sex,” and the original “Roseanne.”
Steve Braun
Steve Braun is an L.A.-based acting coach and communication consultant. Over his 15-year career, he has starred in movies and has been a series regular on television shows. He is also an acting teacher and coach.