Winners Revealed of UK’s Casting Directors Association Awards 2021

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Photo Source: Casting Directors Association

The Casting Directors Association (CDA), which represents professional casting directors in the UK and Ireland, held its fifth annual awards on 10 September. The 2021 ceremony was held at BAFTA in London, recognising casting talent across commercials, television, and film.

In common with so many in the industry, casting directors have had to adjust their practice during the pandemic to work online. “After 18 months of virtual castings and only seeing each other on Zoom it was emotional to see everyone in person,” said Kate Evans, chair of CDA. “The CDA Awards are a great opportunity to celebrate the work of the talented casting directors who make up the CDA.”

Backstage caught up with some of the winners to find out the stories behind their award-winning casting:

Best Casting of a Commercial (UK & Ireland)
Sue Odell
for Donate Your Words, Cadburys & Age UK

“Despite lockdown and not being able to meet folk face-to-face, I had such a joyful time doing research and sourcing loads of absolutely fantastic older people who each had truly the most fascinating life stories. 130 of them each sent me a brilliant self-tape. As well as making lots of phone calls, I also met 26 of them on Zoom and two on their tech skills were impressive! Dead proud that this commercial was directed by my son Billy Boyd Cape at Academy Films too.”

Best Casting of an Online Commercial
Hannah Birkett Casting
for Snake, SetApp

“These awards are really important to me because highlighting achievements in casting has been a long time coming. The casting process is often overlooked but the CDA have paved the way for future CDs to get the recognition that they deserve.”

Best Casting Featuring Children
Sue Odell
for Round Are Way, Co-Op

“The pressure was on when director Billy Boyd Cape at Academy Films asked me to find two brothers aged 12 and 6. And one of them had to play the guitar. Brilliantly. Ideally from up north. Blimey. Well I scoured the country, drama schools music schools, on social media and beyond and managed to find about 90 amazing guitar playing youngsters. But the very first self tape I received from Austin Haynes and his brother Rocco just blew me away.... It appears that the Co-Op ad has launched his career—he has been booked up ever since!”

Best Casting of a Charity/Public Awareness Commercial
Thomas Adams
for Heated Conversation (That’s Not Me), Create Not Hate

“I’m thrilled to win the CDA award for best casting of a charity/public awareness film. Anything I can do to raise awareness of Create Not Hate is very welcome. They’re a fantastic charity who work with underrepresented young people, mainly from ethnic minority background with an aim to giving them a voice in the creative industries. The film I cast, Heated Conversation (That’s Not Me) was written and co-directed by Emmanuel Areoye, a young man from Camberwell who attended Create Not Hate workshops and now is working as a Creative a Quiet Storm agency. Personally, I’m also very grateful to be part of the CDA—an organisation that supports and celebrates the role of Casting Directors in advertising and has been a priceless resource of knowledge, expertise and encouragement since its inception, but even more so in the last, difficult 18 months.”

Best Casting of a Stills Campaign
Sue Odell
for Fingerlickin' Good, KFC

“This KFC ‘It’s Good’ was aired at exactly the right time! Two weeks after posters went all over town the first lockdown began and no more finger licking was allowed! But what fun I had at the casting! Thank you to young photographer Sam Wright for asking me to be his casting director on it.”

Best Casting of a Short Film
Shakyra Dowling
for Ernie, Dir: Ray Panthaki

“It was a real honour to be nominated let alone win for such a special film that reflects the times we are living in. Working with Ray Panthaki was a pleasure, and it was a delight to cast such an amazingly talented group of actors.”

Best Casting of a Film and Drama
ET Casting
for Paul Dood's Deadly Lunch Break, Dir: Nick Gillespie 

Emily Tilelli: “It was such a privilege to be back in a room full of people after the crazy 18 months we’ve had! Seeing the gorgeous faces of colleagues and peers in the backdrop of BAFTA was wonderful. Overall, I think it was one of the most successful years yet; the venue looked great, the food was delicious, the wine was flowing and Omid gave us so many laughs, serving as the perfect host. ET Casting were lucky enough to win the last award of the night for Best Casting for a Feature or Drama, which really did top off a fantastic evening.”

Congratulations also to Leanne Flinn, who won three awards:

Best Casting of an International Commercial for The Great Meal, Coca-Cola

Best Street Casting for This Girl Can, Sport England

Best Casting of a Creative Media Project for House Hack, Whatifi App


Check out Backstage’s UK audition listings!