How to Audition for Netflix

Article Image
Photo Source: Netflix

You’ve streamed them, you’ve binged them—isn’t it about time you auditioned for a Netflix show yourself? The titan behind “Stranger Things,” “Bridgerton,” and many other popular shows not only produces award-winning original content, but also provides a platform for young, unknown actors to catch their big break.

And the best part is that you can live anywhere and still land a role on the next bingeworthy Netflix series. Just ask Chase Stokes, who plays lead John B on Netflix’s hit teen drama “Outer Banks.” “This was a job that was booked in Atlanta,” Stokes told Decider. “So for the people who feel like there’s an obligatory need to come to L.A. and get their career jump-started and they feel like this is the only place that you can do it, don’t question your worth.” 

Are you ready to enter the streamer’s audition room? In this in-depth guide to becoming a Netflix actor, we’ll walk you through how the Netflix audition process works, which shows are currently looking for talent, and audition tips from current stars and casting directors.


How to audition for Netflix — with or without an agent

Scene from 'Bridgerton'Courtesy Netflix

There is no single way to become a Netflix actor—Netflix finds talent through casting websites, agent submissions, and even social media. Auditions aren't conducted in-house, but the production companies Netflix hires are frequently on the lookout for new talent through these channels. These production companies often cast unknown actors, which makes Netflix a great place to break into the biz regardless of your representation status.

And while it's true that most actors land Netflix auditions through their agents, that doesn't mean you can't make it without representation.

How to audition for Netflix without an agent

Here's how to audition for Netflix even if you don't have an agent:

  1. Find roles online: Use the Backstage database to find casting calls for Netflix shows. Even minor background acting experience can help you meet the right people to help your career.
  2. Seek networking opportunities: Rub shoulders with movers and shakers in the streaming platform realm by attending relevant conferences and expos. Possibilities include the View, FYSee For Yourself, Geeked Week, Summer Game Fest, Tudum, the Annecy International Animation Film Festival, Cannes Next, Pulse, and Popcorn and a Movie Workshop events. Do your research ahead of time so you know who to meet to get involved.
  3. Promote yourself: Create a personal website where you can showcase your updated headshots, résumé, and demo reel. Establish yourself on social media, which has become a new go-to avenue for discovering talent for many CDs. (Just make sure you do it the right way.)
  4. Volunteer: Audition readers are constant need for many Netflix casting directors, so volunteering to help out with table reads could pay dividends. You never know who you might impress with your performance.
  5. Highlight your special skills: Many casting directors are looking for actors with specific skillsets, such as accents, musical proficiency, stage combat experience, and athletic abilities. Be sure to list your special skills on your acting résumé!
  6. Reach out to casting directors: Call, email, and DM casting directors. “The concern for that person [without an agent] and for my office is: Where do we find you?” said Avy Kaufman, the Emmy-winning casting director of Netflix’s “Maniac.” “To knock on the door isn’t useful, but where do we find you? You can still send in pictures and résumés, which is great. We use social media a lot now, which is such a big change in this world.” The best way to get on a CD’s radar is by email—but keep it brief. “You don’t need to write a cover letter with an email,” says “Sex Education” CD Lauren Evans. “Just be brief, clear, and concise. Something like: ‘This is my name, this is where I’m from, and this is what I’d like to show you. Please do keep me in mind.’ I think when your email starts to become a life story, then it’s all a bit much.” It’s best if you can offer tangible evidence of your acting capabilities and experience, as well as any added value you’ll bring to their show. If you have any special skills that match particularly well with a certain show, such as combat skills for a show about zombie hunters, be sure to bring that up.

How to audition for Netflix with an agent

As is the case for most serious acting gigs, you’ll typically need to go through an agent rather than a public casting call to audition for Netflix speaking roles (lead, supporting, or recurring). If you need help finding representation, here’s how to start your search for an acting agent.

Netflix shows currently casting or filming

Scene from 'You'Courtesy Netflix

From “Stranger Things” to “Outer Banks,” there are a number of Netflix original series that are actively putting out new seasons—and seeking out new actors, of course. To easily stay up to date on which series are currently casting or filming, check out our in-depth guides below:

How the Netflix casting process works

Scene from 'Stranger Things'Courtesy Netflix

Those looking to audition for Netflix should be aware that the platform doesn’t conduct auditions in-house. That’s the job of the various production companies hired by the streamer to create their shows, whose casting directors are then sent out to find talent.

That means the process varies depending on the project, genre, and what the showrunners and producers are looking for. Sometimes, CDs compile lists of actors to bring to read for parts; but many have the most fun when the projects they’re working on don’t require “names.”

Kelly Valentine Hendry, the U.K.-based CD behind “Bridgerton,” noted, “We had a lot of freedom and could bring in anyone we felt suitable. A mixture of ideas, lists, and in-person casting kicked off the process. And then actors were either chosen by our creatives there—or as the episodes went on and we were down to day players, we used a mixture of self-tape requests and in-person meetings.”

Netflix, in particular, has shown a willingness to bring on new, unfamiliar faces. “They didn’t interfere in our creative process, which is the most important thing and the best thing about Netflix,” says CD Jennifer Euston (“Orange Is the New Black,” “GLOW”). “It’s just a straight line from creator to Netflix; there’s nothing to block who we want. They trust the filmmaker, and that is crucial in making anything good.” 

For “GLOW,” Euston cast a wide net to search for both athletic and comedic personalities, and she required everyone to audition for the show rather than making offers to big-name actors. “I was looking for a really diverse group of women—different ages, body types, and ethnicities,” she explained. “These were supposed to be regular-looking actresses who couldn’t really hack it in Hollywood because they were different in some way. Plus, I always just want all different faces, shapes, sizes, and ages—everything that I can get into a frame.”

For Netflix’s “Locke & Key,” social media played a major role in the casting process. CD April Webster was seeking one actor with an intellectual disability and another in a wheelchair, so she put out an open call through Twitter and Instagram. “We got submissions from a lot of people that we weren’t expecting who don’t have agents and who aren’t necessarily actors,” she says. “We use Instagram to see what people look like now.”

Where to find Netflix auditions and casting calls

Scene from 'The Circle'Courtesy Ben Blackall/Netflix

It’s crucial to know who the production companies and CDs are behind the show you’re interested in auditioning for. You’ll also need to stay on top of upcoming casting calls and production schedules—all of which can be done through an agent, if you have one, or through our regularly updated roundup of Netflix casting calls

We’ve hosted a number of listings for the streamer over the years. In September 2020, CD Heather Taylor sought background actors for the then-upcoming fourth season of “Stranger Things.” In 2017, a post for “You” extras casting called for a range of character types. 

And background work can lead to bigger things—just ask Richard Ellis, the co-lead of Netflix comedy-drama “I Am Not Okay With This.” “My first day of extra work, I had just moved to New York,” he says. “Backstage was the thing I used all the time; Backstage is where I got my start on everything, [where I got] my first extra gig, on ‘Divorce,’ the HBO series.” 

In addition to bookmarking our collection of Netflix casting calls, you can also check out our project-themed roundups below. These not only include a variety of gigs that are similar to your favorite Netflix shows, but also, when a series is casting with us, direct notices about the open audition. 

Top Netflix casting directors

Behind the scenes of 'Squid Game'Courtesy Netflix

The CDs behind your favorite Netflix series span various production companies and agencies. Some of the most prolific Netflix CDs include:

  • David Rapaport and Lyndsey Baldasare of the L.A.-based Rapaport/Baldasare Casting put together the ensembles of “You” and “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.”
  • Barbara Fiorentino shaped the cast of “13 Reasons Why.”
  • Allison Jones is the CD behind “Space Force,” “Love,” and the Netflix reboot of “Arrested Development.”
  • Jennifer Euston changed the game with her diverse casting for “Orange Is the New Black” and “GLOW.”
  • Laray Mayfield and Julie Schubert cast “House of Cards,” “Jessica Jones,” “Luke Cage,” and “Mindhunter.”

How much do Netflix actors make?

Scene from 'Outer Banks'Courtesy Netflix

Netflix tends to pay its actors significantly more than traditional studios:

  • For series just starting out, actors can earn up to $20,000 per episode. For example, Jessie Mei Li, Freddy Carter, and Archie Renaux likely earned between $20,000 and $40,000 per episode for “Shadow and Bone.” In 2019, SAG-AFTRA made a streaming agreement with Netflix guaranteeing minimum actor payments for the platform’s shows.
  • Daniel Craig earned more than $100 million for his role in the platform’s two upcoming “Knives Out” sequels, as opposed to $25 million for his role in the studio-produced “No Time to Die.”
  • Winona Ryder earned $300,000–$350,000 per episode of “Stranger Things,” from Season 3 on.
  • Lee Jung-jae earned around $253,600 per episode for “Squid Game.” 

Netflix actors' earnings span a large range depending on the role, production, location, and performer status. Primary actors are paid for time spent filming as well as residuals for later screenings, while smaller and background actors are only paid for the initial filming. They aren’t paid by Netflix itself; instead, they’re paid through production companies.

Netflix audition tips from casting directors and actors

Scene from 'Inventing Anna'“Inventing Anna” Credit: David Giesbrecht/Netflix

Need an extra boost of inspiration? Check out these tips from Netflix’s leading actors—and the CDs that found them.

Bring something different into the room

CDs sit through countless hours of auditions over the course of a day, so it’s a good idea to liven things up with a different approach. “It is so much fun when an actor brings something in that I didn’t think of and that the creative team probably didn’t think of, most likely,” Kaufman says. “It’s like, ‘Oh, my gosh, you just nailed it.’ The thing is, I want people to be great, so when they surprise us and do something that wows us, it’s very exciting.”

Use your life experience

Webster urges auditioning actors to “have a rich and full life. What you bring to the table are the experiences you have had. It’s what makes you unique.”

Remember: Casting directors are rooting for you

Carmen Cuba, whose instinct for finding actors helped shape pop culture with “Stranger Things,” wants actors to feel comfortable and at ease in the audition room. “I think we are all just doing our best, and when our paths cross, it is with the shared objective of success on both our parts of getting the role cast,” she says. “That is all [actors] need to know, really: That I’m definitely taking the time to be in the room with them, because I think they have a shot at either the thing they are auditioning for or something in the future that they don’t know about.”

Kaufman feels the same way. “It means a lot to us to make [the audition room] a place to feel comfortable—because to walk into anyone’s home or office, even if you’re overly confident as a person, there’s something that [makes it] an unexpected place. You can expect to be treated wonderfully. We’re sensitive to the audition process,” she said.

Prepare, prepare, prepare

Doing your homework helps you book roles. Aisha Coley, who mined a wide range of talent for Ava DuVernay’s “When They See Us,” says the key to a memorable audition is “getting into the role, being prepared, and that [auditioners] walk into the room feeling like getting the job is a possibility. I really appreciate when an actor comes in prepared. I think that’s the biggest thing.”

“House of Cards” and “Jessica Jones” CD Julie Schubert believes that doing your homework is audition rule No. 1. She explained, “What being prepared means is knowing your material and knowing the choices that you’re making. Listen to the direction and take the direction in, and bring it into the scene if you’re doing it a second time. Make sure that you have all the things you need to be able to present yourself as someone who knows what you’re doing.”

You’re never auditioning for just one role

Kurt Yue ended up auditioning for “Cobra Kai” three different times before finally landing the part of George on Season 1. But his previous read-throughs with CDs weren’t for that part; they just remembered him down the line. 

“Now, this is a really important lesson for people that are newer to acting or new to the industry: Every single time that you audition, you’re never just auditioning for that one part,” he said. “You are auditioning for future auditions. You may not fit the character that you initially auditioned for, but if you do a great job, even if you don’t book that role, the casting director will remember you and will try to find more roles for you and bring you back for more auditions.

For the Netflix casting calls and jobs, click here!

More From How to Get Cast On


More From Actors + Performers

Now Trending