Casting Assistant



So I’ll start by asking you to state your job title, the industry that you work in and how long it’s been since you’ve graduated from college.


I work in the entertainment industry as a casting assistant. And I, man, this is when the math comes in. This is why I work in entertainment. Um, I graduated in 2016. So it’s been four years. 


Perfect, perfect. Are you–are you a freelancer? Or do you work for a company as a casting assistant?


Um, so it’s actually been a combination. This past year, you know, the industry was in a lot of flux. So I was previously working in a permanent position with a casting office in New York. And when I was furloughed, I was freelancing with a bunch of different casting directors and casting offices. And right now, I am still freelancing, but I’m in a long term position with a specific project.


Wonderful. Awesome. And have you worked in the entertainment industry since you graduated from college?


Yes, I did. Yes, I have. 


Wonderful. Um, could you give us just sort of a brief description of your primary job functions?


Um, so a lot of it is administrative. But it’s very heavily focused in, inner communication, and communication with different parties–agents and managers who represent the talent that we’re interested in–different members of creative teams, so that can be directors, producers, screenwriters, play writers, different people on the production team. And then there’s also the aspect of the actual audition. So it’s a lot of preparing documents, reading scripts, [indestinguishable] that for characters that the actors will use in the auditions. We also write the character breakdowns. So for the roles that we’re casting, we help write those character descriptions. We, in the audition, you know, we are reading with the actors, and we’re also giving direction to the actors based on what the team is looking for. And then we also see a lot of work–we go, you know, we saw I should say, shows at theatres, also watching a lot of movies and TV, just trying to find new talent. And whether it’s actors or, you know, directors or, you know, like screenwriters and playwrights and stuff like that. So, it’s a very all encompassing job. You know, its function is administrative, but as far as like getting the bigger picture, look at it, it does involve a lot of the interaction with different people who are involved in the project, as well as agents and managers, and yeah, and just and just kind of being like, the central hub of a lot of the goings on.


Amazing. That’s fascinating. And this is a clarifying question for me, just because I’m really interested, this isn’t on my list of questions. But so when you are doing that work, and are you working for, like, like, is it a casting agency–that like works with various projects for theatre, TV, whatever? And or are you working for like, say, like, a Netflix type, like some sort of organization that actually produces or makes the content?


Yes. So casting is–so casting professionals get hired by people to do our job to find actors to audition them and to get them booked, and to get them on set. So there are different casting offices of varying sizes, and theatres, even some production or some like, network and studios have like in-house, so they don’t have to hire out unless they’re like doing like a search, like nationwide, or, or internationally. But typically, like the last– the office that I’m currently working at, they get hired by different networks and studios and streaming companies to cast their projects. Does that answer your question? 


It does. Yeah, yeah. That’s great. That’s very helpful. Can you estimate in an average week, what percentage of your job requires writing?


I mean, 100%. Yeah, I mean, it’s a lot of–because a lot of the people dictation is via email, as well as, you know, reading the scripts and writing character descriptions and like, you know, depending on the type of project. If you’re working in theater, I would say the writing is really just going to be email based, it’s not so much like writing character descriptions, because a lot of those roles are established. So unless it’s a new work, you’re not having to make edits to the descriptions that are already already available. But for TV, you know, sometimes film I guess, is closer to theater, because it’s a lot more set. But for TV, you know, you’re casting new episodes every week, you’re having to write new character descriptions, you’re reading new scripts, you’re, um, you know, like that, that is going to be a lot more creatively writing. But yeah, the emails and the communication is really like, 100%. Like, that’s consistent. 


Wonderful. Thank you. And you’ve, you’ve kind of answered this already. But um, what forms or types of writing or kinds of documents? It sounds like, email, these character descriptions, like a lot of communication that these various people–are there any other sort of genres or types of documents that you consistently write that you haven’t mentioned?


Um, I mean, the documents are usually like contracts. So not necessarily things that we are producing but that we’re sharing, and are responsible for getting like answers or filling in the blanks of like, whatever talent needs it. Um, but other than that, and it’s really…yeah, I mean, though, yeah, it’s really just like the character descriptions and emails, I think. There’s also kind of like note taking, um, so for different meetings, like, I’m responsible for taking notes for them, and then sharing that information if necessary. Um, and that’s a skill, I realized, they haven’t exercised in a while, slash I’m not even sure if I ever really particularly had it. Um, and that is really, really valuable, because they rely on, you know, if they’re moving quickly, and we’re working on like, different, you know, projects we’re working on, we’re looking at different documents, and I’m taking notes like, some of those, they refer back to like when we’re writing writing an email to the team, and they’re like, What did they say in that moment? It’s just that–the notes! The notes are so important. Um, so yeah, that’s, that’s an interesting one that I was introduced to in this job that I’m in right now, that is a skill that I’m trying to sharpen. 


Awesome. That’s really interesting. I agree. It is a really challenging skill, even now. It’s a totally different kind of writing than we ever do, right? 


Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. 


So, um, the casting–the sort of character notes is something I’m really interested in, because I needs to do this, if I’m understanding it, right, it seems to sort of blend like a very creative way of thinking and writing with a very administrative task. Like the goal is still administrative in some ways, even though it’s art. So I was wondering if you could maybe think about a recent project where you had to write those and, and sort of talk about the process of it for me. 


Yeah, it’s funny, because I, I’ve always loved like writing, like creative writing was one of my first loves. So in all the offices that I’ve worked in, especially more recently, as an assistant, like they’ve always just foisted that responsibility on me once they realize that, like, Oh, she’s good at this, like, she can do this. Um, and yeah, so really, so when you get the script, sometimes there are at least, like a breakdown of the characters that are featured in the script, usually ones that you know, are not going to be like background or extra, it’s like the roll set of lines. And so we are we’re, so we are kind of tasked of figuring out, especially if you’re working on like, an episodic like a TV show at figuring out which of those roles that we’re going to be responsible for casting because some of them they’re like, you know, some of those roles have like two lines and like we’re not gonna be responsible for that, that’s going to be local casting, you know, for wherever it’s shooting, they can cast you know, like the two liners. For the offices that I’ve worked in, were usually responsible for TV shows. And for films for passing like the kind of like heavier roles, like the ones who have like, one or two scenes and like, when I worked on you know, I worked on in NCIS, New Orleans. So like, you’re responsible for casting like the victim, like the some victim’s family member and like the villain, and like, those are like our usual like, cast of characters that we had to cast. So when we have the scripts, we have to figure out what are those roles that we’re going to be casting, and it’s taken me a little bit, umm, working in different offices, and just working in different types of media, whether it was theater or for film or for TV and figuring out, like, what is going to be most helpful for the actor, and something that I always try to do is show the arc of the character. Because even if they may be introduced one way, how they end up can be a little bit different. And you don’t want to, like do this by like, spoiling it per se, but like, the more information you can give the actor showing, like, acting as the foundation for the material that they’re going to have to prepare for the audition, the better. I’m so like, the first, you know, the character description usually looks like the character name, the age range that they’re playing, their ethnicity, and their gender. And a lot of that has been shifting currently, because of social justice movements, as far as like incorporating different descriptors of like race and ethnicity, as well as gender. Um, so like, that’s going to shift, and it hasn’t like happened in a very, like, all encompassing way, yet, but I know that a lot of people are shifting how they’re writing their breakdowns to be more inclusive, which is really great.


That’s really cool. And really interesting. So it’s not that necessarily the act of casting more diverse actors is happening, it’s the way that you described them. Could you talk a little bit about like, how one might shift, like, what you might someone might have written a few years ago, as opposed to now?


Yeah, um, so like, you know, a couple years ago, it could have been, like, you know, it could have been like a role that was for a business person, and they would have been, like, 30s to 40s. White umm, like, woman. And now, you know, if we were to submit that now, and we couldn’t justify reason why it had to be a white woman, the studio and network, we have to send these breakouts to approve would not approve it. So now, it’s really a matter of opening it up from the jump, so that it would be like 30, 40s, you know, any ethnicity, any race, any gender. And usually, there’s like, at least when I was working with CBS, for NCIS New Orleans, there was always something at the end of our breakdown, that would be all ethnicities and genders are, are open to to apply or open to be considered. And that’s like CBS’s like language, but like, every studio or network has something similar to that. And in the language that we include in our breakdown, where it’s like, all, everyone is open to any of the roles unless specified. So like, even if like the writers, or the director, or the producers, like wanting somebody to be white, like we had to be able to justify why they had to be white, or whatever ethnicity or whatever, gender, whatever. 


That’s fascinating, and a really satisfying thing to hear when we think about, well, who we’re so used to seeing on TV.


Exactly, yeah, and like seeing that shift again reminded me, at least as a casting professional, like how much influence we have, as far as like the kind of people that we can read for these roles and the kind of people that we send for consideration. You know, if we open it from the jump that gives us so much more playing room to work with, and gives us so much more opportunity to like, you know, be able to find someone they may not have considered originally. So it’s really exciting for us too.


Thank you. That clarification is really interesting. 


Yeah, yeah, of course. Um, so then to go back to your original point, as far as like how the character description is written, and, like I was saying, it’s about finding the arc of the character. So like, how they start in the first scene, to like, how their thoughts or ideas or actions change in the middle to kind of how, how the character kind of looks like at the end. So I think it’s really fun to like highlight those kind of like, kind of like three major moments, as well as like, any specific interactions they have with other characters, how they might feel about other characters. And, you know, kind of internally where the character is–like, you know, how they may be perceived versus how they actually are. It’s very, it really is like one of the more creative parts that especially for me as an assistant that I get to do, so it’s really It’s really fun to get to like, kind of be a part of interpreting what we get from the directors and producers and screenwriters on–put that with what’s in the script, and then kind of turn it into something that’s digestible for actors, and for agents and managers who are looking at this trying to get a sense of the character without having read the script, because a lot of times they don’t have access to the scripts. So it’s really just us. And you know, it’s our breakdown and the sides the, the material that they’re given to prepare for the audition. That’s all the context they have. So that kind of makes the character description that much more important.


Yeah, it’s so fascinating, because it feels like you’re, you know, in many ways you’re being asked to summarize, right, like, really distill this, but also, you’re performing this really complicated analysis about like, hmm, you know, this is the sort of exterior of the character and this is the interior of the character that that’s really interesting. It sounds really challenging. How did you know how to perform that kind of writing?


Um, that’s a good question. I’ve never thought about that before. I guess it’s just like, you know, I have a background in theater. You know, I was doing theater all throughout my education, from elementary to high school. I was also doing community theater, and I studied theater in. In college, I was just a general theater studies major. And a lot of the time is spent analyzing characters and analyzing why a character does a certain thing, like there has to be a justifiable reason for every action a character makes, everything that they say everything they do every thought that they have, you have to be able to have a reason for it. So I feel like that’s, first and foremost, you know why I was able to grasp it so quickly, because I already had, I already like, as someone who’s a really big reader and writer at a young age, you know, and still kind of identify as such, like now even though I don’t read and write as much. Umm, you know, I always kind of wanted to dissect the characters and wanted to understand why it is they do what they do. So especially for someone in casting where the actor is kind of like, first, you, when you’re reading a script, it’s just like, understanding these characters and understanding what their arc is. So we can find the person who can play all of those points. Like, it’s not about finding a person who can play like, one part of the character really well, but not so much the others is like, they have to be able to hit all of the major peaks, all the, like, all the peaks, all the valleys, like every aspect of that character. Um, so yeah, I really feel like it was my, the work that I did in my theater classes of like, analyzing scripts, and, you know, whether I was like in a show or in an acting class, and like performing scenes, like, you know, that was all about just like, head in the book, like head in the scripts, like, just trying to figure out, trying to answer the question, why? And trying to answer that, you know, the motives and, you know, the thought process process behind it.


I love that. That’s wonderful. Thank you. And this is sort of the flip side of that was, has there ever been a time in your career that you felt unprepared as a writer?


I will say, again, something new that I was introduced to with this job that I currently have. So when we have an actor that we really like, we send them for approval to the studio and network. And the way that the company that I’m working with right now, they accompany the materials of the actor, like when they’re sending for approval, we send like a picture or we send the link of their read for the role or like any demo material from like, other projects that they’ve done. And we also include, like a little blurb of like, their credits and like things like that. And this was the first time I’ve been asked to do something this because usually, like an agent or manager when they’re sending along an actor’s material, so they’ll include like a little blurb, but I was, you know, the associate I work with, like, yes, we write our own blurbs and I was just like, I don’t even know what that means. I don’t have what the blurb is. So it was again, like that practice of like summarizing, um, but it was also like in such a specific way as to how like the company like uniformly likes to write them as far as like, what kind of credits to include what kind of, you know, awards that you need to highlight if they’ve received them. Things like that. And it was kind of a weird kind of paradigm shift in my mind of taking the skills that I’ve had from writing breakdowns to writing, like this kind of like blurb for, like an actor, and like, some of these actors are like, very celebrated, like, have a bunch of roles and have a bunch of like, you know, awards and whatever, whatever. So I was just like, how do I like condense this into, you know, like, a three paragraph, you know, or three, three sentence paragraph. So that was a really interesting challenge that I kind of, like first came up against, um, and I feel like I’ve, you know, been tightening it up, like I have, this past week, we had to turn out like four different approvals in like, 30 minutes. And so I had to, like, prepare all that information and, and write all those paragraphs, because I’m the one writing the paragraphs, and so I was able to do it and I was just like, I’ve got it, like I understand now! Um, yeah, that was, that was definitely an interesting one, as far as like, less creative and more a little bit like analytical and, like, more administrative in that way. And, and then I guess, in another way, something that always gets me is the emails, like, I feel like, there’s no right way to ever send an email like, especially the more that you’re sending emails, so like more important people like the keener your eye has to be looking at the details, looking at how it can be interpreted, like, being super, super clear, but also like not overloading them with a lot of information. So that’s something I feel like will always take more practice. And it’s different with every creative team you’re working with, it’s different with every casting team you’re working with as far as like how, what they need and how they should get the information. So the emails is a really big thing as well. 


That’s, that’s fascinating. So it sounds to me, like the, you know, character notes and emails, when you’re suddenly communicating with people in a new project in a new company, and that they’re always at least–or I should say, the blurb, maybe–this feels especially persuasive. Like it’s, you know, you’re it’s the way you’re describing it, you’re like, I’m trying to figure out what’s the most compelling thing, right, here for this particular audience. And, and so when you’re writing–learning to write these blurbs or learning to send emails to maybe like a high level person in a new organization that you haven’t communicated with before, what did you what do you do to sort of overcome those challenges? Are there strategies or tactics you take?


Yeah, I would say, I always like, you know, I’m huge with like filing emails. So when it comes to like me having to write like an email for an executive, or like, looking at previous blurbs and stuff like that, I always just go back to using like examples from like, previous emails that have been sent out by other people, and just modeling it after them. Because like, there is something a little bit formulaic about it, um, you know, as far as, like, the format, or–the format alone is like a really big part of how we structure our emails. So like, if I least get the format down, they can, like “jush” it or adjust it or whatever they need to do to make it look like presentable in their mind. Because that’s the thing too, like, I feel it’s a little bit hard to make it uniform, because we, we know what needs to be said, but we all kind of interpret it in different ways. So we, I mean, we each kind of have our own little like flavor, it’s how we like write work, you know, connect different ideas together. So, you know, as long as you hit like the–or as long as I hit, like the major points of like, of importance and have the format right, I feel comfortable, like sending it off to approval internally, so they can get their eyes on it and adjusted as they need to see it. Um, but I rely really heavily on using other people’s work as an example. And I guess for me also, there’s like the, in the same kind of vein, it’s just a reminder to like, keep it simple because like I personally have a problem of getting a little too like wordy with some of my descriptions on some of my blurbs and things like that. And it’s just like a reminder that, you know, the less that they need to read the better. Like, they don’t want to sit and read like this long email. They don’t want to like, sit and have to like, look at this blurb that’s like five sentences long. Like, you know, just hitting them with the most important stuff like as soon as possible, like, it’s going to benefit the both of–it’s going to benefit all parties. So for me, the reminder to like, keep it simple is something that goes through my mind. 


Wonderful. Yeah, that’s that makes perfect sense. And I think it’s, it’s one of those challenges that can often feel counter to like academic experiences.


Yes, yes.


You had mentioned sending some of these for internal approval, and that sort of hits on my next question about, does anyone oversee your writing? Who and sort of how does that work?


Yes, so for me on my team, um, so I’m the assistant. And then there was an associate casting director above me. And then there are two casting directors, who are like leading the team for us. So when I’m writing something, I always send it directly to the associate, um, who basically is like–we are kind of our own internal team, amongst like our casting team. We work most closely together, like she’s the one who’s often like delegating tasks to me. She’s the one who I usually–I always go to with questions. So like, I always send my work to her first to get her eyes on it, because I’m still new to the to the company, like, I’ve only been there for a month or so. So I’m just like, I’m doing a lot better about like, figuring out what people’s preferences are, what their taste is, but like, even so–even if I had been there for like years, I would always just send it to the associate, just to get her eyes on it before we then send it to the casting director. The casting director for us has final say, as far as like how things need to be presented and how they’re going to be sent out. So they’re like the last step, or the last like person that like, would need to see eyes on anything, but they’re like, the most important person to have eyes on something before we send anything out.


Perfect. That makes perfect sense. And, and then this–I’m sure the answer to this will vary–how long do you typically have to complete a writing project. And so maybe a better way to frame that is, what’s the shortest amount of time you might have for a writing project, or the longest for a different kind of project?


The shortest, I would say, has to be the blurbs. And that’s usually like, anywhere between, I had to do one in 15 minutes, versus like, maybe an hour. But they, they may give me an hour, but they hope to have it in sooner. And then the longest would probably be the character descriptions. And that could be like, anywhere between two to three hours or a day. But the time frame is always going to be very, very, very short. Because we’re working very quickly. And like, especially like, you know, the show that I’m working on right now is, is a little different, because it’s being filmed like a movie. So you know, there are different characters that are being focused on. So it’s like being shot in different chunks. So we have a little bit more time before, like, we have to deal with stuff that’s happening a little bit later on. But when I was working on NCIS, like that was like we were shooting–we were casting new episodes every week. So like everything just kind of worked like a machine. So it’s like we had to have the material that we needed to prepare, ready, before our casting concept call, you know, on whatever day and like that’s, and that’s assuming that we even have the scripts on time, because sometimes the scripts wouldn’t come until, well, maybe like, the day of the meeting. So that would like truncate the schedule even further down. So yeah, it’s it’s hard because like, we are having to wait for materials, we’re having to wait for approval, like, you know, even if I get it out, you know, really quick, like, there’s still like so many other things that, like, we need to say yes, or, you know, I can’t write it until I get the script. So I’m waiting on that. And like, sometimes you have you’re given an outline before you’re given like an actual script. So like if that was the case, like I would write a character description based on the outline we received. And sometimes the script would be completely different. Like one character disappears and is not in the script any longer or the role has like a completely different shift, and now they’re downsize, or they were the villain and now they’re a victim. Like, you know, different things can change between that line and the script itself. And sometimes there are edits to the script as well, that happen while, you know, while we’re auditioning or happen while they’re shooting, so, like, for another show I worked on, you know, we were casting for a, you know, casting for an episode. And we found an updated script. And it was like, oh, now we have four more characters that we have to cast. So we had to, like, do a quick turnaround of like writing the breakdown and getting it approved and posting it to send to agents’ managers. So the timeline is often not up to us. But um, but it is, it can be really demanding. So the timeline that we have to then like, write these things, um, it becomes very dependent on like, when we get material.


Got it, that makes sense. And it sounds pretty stressful.


Oh, yes, it can be–it sure can be.


So you had mentioned–you say you were at your theater major? What’s the actual title general…?


General theater studies.


Perfect. And what kind of writing do you remember being asked to create as a student?


Um, I mean, there was like, the traditional, like, you know, research papers that we had to do for our theater history classes. And like our, you know, some of the technical theater classes, we had to do some research papers. But the things I remember the most were, like, for the directing class that I did, we had to have like a director’s book. And I don’t even really remember what was in it, but it was a lot of different, like, specific pieces for, you know, how we have to explain how we wrote something or, um, or not wrote something, but how we directed something, and like breaking down the scene from a director’s point of view, um, you know, having a reflective piece about our process, like directing the scene. So that was a lot more creative, so to speak. Um, and like, I remember, for our acting classes, there was a lot of writing, but none of it was necessarily like, a traditional, like, paper. It was more so like, you know, we had to write about our characters, and like, our character background, and we had to write about, you know, the scene and what that scene meant in the context of like, the whole play, but also like, in, you know, a more like, specific view of like, the character’s journey in that scene. So it was a lot more, you know–it wasn’t really like, left side thinking. It was really like, a lot of right, right side thinking of the brain. I’m trying to think, like, we had to do reviews. I remember that we had write reviews for the shows that we were seeing at the university. So that was also interesting. Um, yeah, that’s really all I remember.


Yeah, that’s really interesting. And so I guess you you spoke to this a little bit, and one of the earlier questions about, you know, some of the work and thinking that you had done as a college student, sort of helping with that analysis of reading the scripts and being able to make sense of it and understand what’s going on with a character. Are there other ways that you think your college writing experiences prepared you to write in this world you’re in, or didn’t prepare you?


That’s a good question. How did it prepare me or didn’t it prepare me? [pause ] I mean, I think that a lot of it is about, like, analytical, like reading and processing, and being able to articulate not just your opinions, but like, what actually goes on. Because so much of what I do is, you know, reading the scripts and having to regurgitate like what I read and like, what happens in what scenes but also like, you know, how that relates to whatever characters that we’re going–that we’re responsible for casting. And then there’s also the aspect of like, when I see new work, when I’m seeing a, you know, show, when I’m seeing, like, a piece of theater, when I’m seeing a TV, you know, or a TV show or a movie or whatever, you know, we all love to like, share our thoughts and you know, about like what it is that we saw, so like being able to learn how to articulate that is a skill that I feel like I was introduced to in my writing, as far as like in the English classes or in the theater classes, when we had to talk about the different pieces that we were introduced to and like, you know, what they made us feel and how–you know what it is that we learned from it. I would see that really helped and just kind of honing that skill for me and at least not being afraid of it. Um, but yeah, I feel like, I don’t know, I feel like, if there was like a class on like, how to write–or not a class, maybe like, something a little bit shorter, or like a master class or something of like, how to write emails, I feel like, that’d be so helpful, because like, there are so many people who literally don’t know how to write an email of any nature. Um, so I’m just like, anything like that, that is going to be a lot more applicable for people who are going to be in school and like, going to be interning or, you know, applying for entry level jobs. A lot of that is going to be administrative, a lot of that is going to be email-based. You know, and those communications are so so, so important. So I feel like the more people feel prepared for that, the better off we’ll be like for those entry level jobs and internships. 


Wonderful. I agree with you. Yeah, I know, that was a real struggle for me as a, like, young person right out of college. I just, yeah–oh, I can write a 20 page essay on Jane Eyre, but I can’t write an email my boss, right? And this next question is a little bit abstract, a little bit more abstract than the others, but could you talk a little bit about what is at stake in your writing?


Um, yeah, I feel like it’s a little bit, it’s honestly more concrete with mine, where it’s just like, if we write the character description wrong, it doesn’t get approved. Like if we, you know, are interpreting the character wrong, like, it won’t get approved. So like, it’s, it’s a bit more concrete that there’s like, a definitive like roadblock–like a definitive obstacle. But it’s also like a matter of when you’re, you know, asking these actors to tape for these roles, or when you’re in the room with them and directing, like, if you don’t understand what it is that the creative team is looking for with the role, if you don’t understand the characters arc in the story, and you’re giving them the wrong direction, then nobody’s going to be happy with the results. And we’ll have to go back to the drawing board and keep auditioning people like, that was something that came up with this TV show that I did, where we were passing the lead for seven months, eight months. And that wasn’t necessarily because we weren’t auditioning the right people. Um, that was more of interesting, an interesting, like, I guess, like, like, a circumstance where it was a new work, and the creative team just couldn’t make up their mind about what it is that they wanted and couldn’t like land on someone. So it’s also like something where you have– where we have to accept that, like, some of those faults or roadblocks won’t be on our part, it’ll be on the creative team, but because we are servicing them, like we just kind of have to go with the flow and have to like, you know, if they ask for something specific, we have to find it. If they ask to see more people, we have to see more people. So like that is something where, you know, if that means we have to rewrite the breakdown, if that means that we have to look at the break down and actually see what the parameters of this role is, and not just like, what’s written in the script and what’s written on paper, but like, where are actual boundaries? And like, where are the ways that we can be more creative and think more outside the box? So, yeah. Yeah, I would say that that’s kind of, it’s kind of always evolving in a little way. And we just kind of have to–anticipate it the we did as best we can, but also accept that like, sometimes we may just have to go back to the drawing board. Um, but yeah, I feel like that’s–did I answer your question? 


It totally answers my question. That’s interesting, because I see what you mean–like it , this idea of like, this is much more concrete. Like there will be a stop if it doesn’t work the way they want it to. Interesting. And I have just a few more questions. I want to be mindful of your time. But even though I could hear you talk about this all day, what is the most difficult thing about writing in your field? Or in your specific position?


I would say the difficult thing is trying to please everyone, honestly, because even if I’m just writing internally, you know, in writing and sharing my work internally, that’s for people, like, including myself, for people that need to all say yes, before we send it off, and then when we send it off, that’s so many more people that all have to agree on it. Um, and like, sometimes they really is, like, you know, the stakes are low, and like, it’s really not that big of a deal. But other times, it’s like, a point of contention of like, how are we going to present this character? How are we going to present this idea, like, you know, what is most important and what is something that needs to be rewritten and, you know, all kinds of things like that, um, and it is like nerve wracking, especially with, again, the emails when you’re sending them to so many people who, you know–we sent an email before the break on, of some new readings that we got from local casting. And we like, did it in the same format, had a nice little intro paragraph, we sent it off. And the director was like, please don’t email me these, like, I don’t want to see these readings, like, just send me your favorites. And like, that will be that, and it’s just like, you know, like, you know, it is a new show. And, you know, it is our first time we’re doing parts, so we’re still trying to get a hang of like the process, but it is also like, you can do be doing everything right on your end, everything that’s always worked, and you send it off, and then you get like an email like that, and you’re like, Okay, like, readjust. Give back, like, that’s totally fine, we’ll be sure to do that moving forward. But yeah, there’s no telling, when you’re dealing with creatives, there’s no telling what kind of mood you can be sending an email to, and, and these creatives have no problem, like letting you know if something is not to their fancy, if they don’t want to receive that email, if, in fact, an email is like the worst thing they’ve ever read, and they’re very upset about it, like, they–they just have, you know, so much at stake in the project, and they want everything to be perfect, and they want everything to be a certain way. And sometimes that goes against other creatives, and sometimes it goes against what our processes so that we have to–we then have to readjust and, um, you know, and see to whatever it is that they’re asking. So yeah, that I think the most difficult part is like, creating something that every one is going to be amenable to. And not just like in the results, but just like, again, like how the information is presented, what kind of format it is in, and like all kinds of things like that.


Yeah, that’s really interesting. Especially because it’s it’s so obvious from listening to you talk that like you–while you have the same internal audience consistently, meaning long term projects, your external audiences are changing. So you’re sort of constantly having to figure out that audience and what they want and how they prefer things. So, how do you believe you’ve evolved or improved as a writer if at all over the course of your career so far? 


Um, I mean, I definitely feel more comfortable with churning out character descriptions, like, I feel like I understand how to get that information quickly, where before, I felt like I had to, like read the whole script, and like, really sit with it. And now I’m just like, if I see three scenes, I know how this is gonna how this can go. So I can like figure out how to write like a solid, you know, break down. Like, even if it has to be adjusted, edited, fine, like it’s at least a good foundation for them to be able to work off. Um, and yeah, I feel like it is also the matter of like, I feel like I’m getting better at articulating my opinions when it comes to like, reviewing new material. Because sometimes I’m just like, Oh, yeah, like they like, I thought it was great. And like, sometimes I can be good enough, but like, you know, there is one show, a new musical that I saw, that my boss at the time, he’s also an artistic director of the off Broadway theater. And he was like, Hey, I just heard about this new show. Like, I’m kind of interested in it. Like, what were your thoughts? Like, you know, could that be something that we produce like at, you know, my theater and I was just like, oh, like, you know what? Like, having to think about it beyond just like the, Oh, I liked it, or I didn’t like it, you know, and how to actually, you know, articulate those opinions in a way that’s like, digestible and helpful, you know, for, you know, somebody who might be looking at it produce like in their in seasons coming up or, you know, whatever it may be. And so I feel like I’m getting better at that, because it’s not that I don’t see a lot of shows, it’s that I don’t often talk about them beyond, you know, that first layer. So I’m trying to, like, challenge myself to do that more. Yeah, I think those are the two strongest, and just like also my email writing, like sometimes I sit and laugh about, like, the kind of emails that I would create as an intern, in my first casting internship, like, in 2015. And now I’m like, like, I feel so much stronger about, like, my communication via email. And, you know, even if I still have to get eyes on it, and it’s not anything I’m not, you know, like, comfortable with or confident and at times. 


Wonderful. That’s great. And just a couple more questions. The first is, to what extent do you think writing is valued in your organization, or, or in the field as a whole? And of course, we’re thinking about, like, everything from explicitly creative in your field to maybe like, subtly creative to then like, very administrative or logistical? And do you see that it’s valued?


Very much. So I mean, people really take that as a sign of intelligence, like just how well you’re able to write, um, again, like, especially with the emails, but even like, you know, for me, just being responsible for writing the breakdowns, like that always, like, makes me feel a little, like self important–not self important, but it makes me like, proud of myself that, like, that’s something that they from the jump, like, knew that I could be counted on for and could be relied on for. Because it isn’t an easy job. And it’s not an easy–like something that people want to do. But knowing that, like, they trust me to be able to do that, and that it’s something that they are often just like, very happy with, like, makes my feel better. But the emails for sure, for sure, are just like, you know, it’s there’s, as you know, there’s nothing more frustrating than getting an unhelpful email. Um, so like, when it comes to crafting them, it’s just like, there’s nothing more important than getting an email like 100%, right? Like there’s, there’s nothing more important. Um, and then like I was saying, too like, with the note taking as well, like, I’m realizing now that that’s like, really a skill I need to like sharpen, because of how important I realized that it is like with this particular team. So yeah, the, the writing of it all is very important with how we how we communicate, and how we process information and how we share that information. 


Excellent. Excellent. And my last question, how would you have defined successful writing as a student versus now? And do you think that you are a successful workplace writer?


So with the successful writing as a student, so you mean, like, how I would have defined it as a student versus how I would define successful writing now or how I would…


Great, great clarification, how would you have defined successful academic writing as a student as opposed to how would you classify successful workplace writing now as someone in the workplace like, what are the distinctions, in terms of how we think about successful writing in those two places?


Mm hmm. As a student, I feel like successful writing would have been like, would have been like, thoroughly and accurately like, analyzing the theme, or the the subject or the topic from your point of view, and being able to back that up with like, you know, facts and, you know, sources and like things like that, um, and just being able to have like a strong point of view that is based in fact, that also can be personalized. Like, it wasn’t a matter of just being able to regurgitate facts and whatever, but also being able to put your own spin on it and have it be like, personalized and authentic to you and your experience. Um, and then in the– like in the career that I’m in right now, successful writing is like…It’s kind of weird, but I guess it’s kind of like this idea that your writing can be passed off as someone else’s, in a weird way, like kind of like any–you’re kind of like a ghost writer, like as an assistant, I sometimes feel like a ghostwriter. Because I write all this stuff. And I don’t necessarily get credit from it outside of like my internal team. And it’s just like, the casting director who like then shares that information on the wider distro. And it’s like, no one will assume that she took the time to write that like, clearly that was like someone else’s, like usually the assistant or associate’s work. Um, but for me, it kind of feels like if she’s sending it out with her name, that means like, it’s good work, like that I kind of like ghost wrote for her. And like, it successfully passed off as something that she would write. So for me, it’s kind of that ability to adapt to who it is you’re writing for, which for me would be the casting directors on my team, and having it be good enough for them to send on a wider distro.


Wonderful. This has just been a delight to hear about your work. Thank you so much. I’m sorry, went a little longer than I had told you. So I really appreciate your time. 


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