How to Get Cast on Backstage In the UK

Photo Source: Joelle Avelino

Inspirational notions like “you are the master of your own destiny” are helpful on Monday mornings, or when you need to pick yourself up after not getting that role you wanted, but what practical tools and resources do you need to actually master that destiny? Being a proactive performer is essential to ensure you are driving your career in the direction you envisaged, and that can mean two things.

Firstly, it means you are always learning, creatively evolving, and developing your talent to be the best performer you can be. And secondly, it means ensuring you are giving yourself access to casting opportunities to show off that beautifully crafted talent. 

Backstage is the home for all the tools you need, and this guide will show you how to utilise them in the best way.

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What is Backstage?

Backstage is a casting platform and publication that has been launching the careers of actors and performers since 1960.

Started in New York, Backstage has long served as the primary resource for performers to find work and gain insight and advice to progress their careers and to hone their craft. In recent years, Backstage has made a deep dive into the UK industry and now helps hundreds of British projects find their perfect performers every month.

How can Backstage help me?

Backstage gives you access to thousands of castings and allows you to apply directly to their creators. With all these opportunities in one place, you can be put in front of casting directors (CDs), directors, and producers every day.

Backstage is also home to advice articles and industry interviews aimed at new and established actors. Our editorial content is here to help you develop your skills, learn best practice, and ultimately to land you the gigs you want in order to progress your career.

How do I apply for roles on Backstage?

First, you need to create your Backstage profile. 

Attach a clear and recent headshot, your showreel, and any relevant experience and training information to create a profile that shows your best work and sells you as a performer.

Then, you’ll want to go through our casting notices. Apply the filters so that you are shown the casting calls that are relevant to you, such as your playing age and location. Go through the listings, select the ones that are right for you, and apply.

The person casting the project will receive your submission in their casting dashboard and will contact you via our messaging system if they have an interest in your application.

How do I know which roles on Backstage are right for me?

It is important you read everything very carefully before you submit your applications.

Always check your diary, the location, how you would travel to that location, if you are happy with the fee attached, and if you are interested in that type of role and project.

All our casting calls are vetted and verified by humans in our casting department to avoid inappropriate content and opportunists coming through, but by all means, do your own research into the filmmakers to see their previous work and style.

How do I know which roles on Backstage I will be right for?

Again, it is very important that you read all the information on the casting notice carefully to ensure the gig is right for you before you apply.

If the person casting the project is looking for applications from a particular location or of a particular type which you very obviously do not fit, please do not apply. This creates extra work for the casting person, and applying as a chancer won’t get you seen for roles that aren’t suited to you.

Also, think about this: casting directors are skilled in the art of memory. They need to hold in their minds a huge bank of people they have previously encountered to call upon when thinking of options for projects. If you pop up on their casting dashboard for every single project, no matter if you are right or wrong, that CD might not take your submission seriously.

What can I do to grab the attention of a production posted on Backstage?

Write a great cover letter! 

When the person casting the project looks at their casting dashboard, they will get a lovely portfolio list with names and headshots for everyone that has applied. From there, they can click through to those who take their fancy to see their full profile.

Before that, they have the option to read your cover letter. Use that opportunity to detail why you are right for the role. This can include your relevant experience, your suitability for the role, and why you want to work on the piece.  

People who are casting projects are likely to have spent a long time getting the piece to the point where they can start looking for their talent to bring it to life. Take a bit of time to explain why you should be that talent.

Keep it short, to the point, relevant, and clear.

How can I maximise the potential of my profile?

Keep your profile up to date. 

Hopefully, the casting person has seen your application, read your cover letter, and is now looking at your profile as they start to shortlist their options. You want to make sure that your Backstage profile showcases all of your best work and experience.

Always ensure your headshot is a true representation of you. If your appearance changes, you should be showing this in a new image so the person casting the project knows what they can expect from your look. Get some tips for your headshot in our UK Actors Headshot Guide.

List your experience fully, including any training you have accrued in your career. A full CV can be impressive but don’t list non-relevant, or even worse, made-up experience. If you don’t have much experience yet, that’s totally fine – a lot of people cast with Backstage to find undiscovered talent.

It’s always great to have material for the casting director to go through to see you in action. Make sure that your showreel, if you have one, is uploaded and up to date. Here’s some advice from our US site on how to build a showreel, and check out the UK Actor’s Guide to Successful Self-Taping.

Can I apply to Backstage projects in the US and other overseas locations?

We have several thousand casting opportunities available outside the UK at any time. A lot of people love Backstage because it gives you international insight and opportunity unmatched by any other publication.

While we have lots of great pieces about getting cast overseas, you should always check before applying to an international casting to ensure you are suitable for the project. There are visa implications when working abroad, so get clued up before you hit that apply button.

How do I find out more about the industry outside Backstage?

Backstage provides an extensive and lovingly curated directory of industry contacts: The Call Sheet.

Search through hundreds of agency, production, and casting contacts in the UK, and devise your plans to contact and conquer.

Where can I look for inspiration on Backstage?

Backstage gives you loads of weekly chunks of information that will help you get to know the industry more and to equip you on current affairs and opportunities.

Be your own career guru and keep up to date with the UK industry by reading these pieces every week.

Take a look at the UK events roundup to catch shows, networking events, and not-to-be-missed workshops. Check out our weekly industry roundup for information to keep afloat of the goings-on and keep up in conversations. Take a look at our What’s Casting pieces to discover big projects that are on the hunt for talent, who is casting them, and sometimes, how you can apply for roles. 

What should I do when I get cast on Backstage?

Tell us! 

We always love to hear about projects you have been cast in with Backstage. Tweet us @backstage and use the hashtag #igotcast to tell us about your story – we might end up featuring you on our website!

Looking to get cast? Apply to casting calls on Backstage.