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Kate Martineau Adams: Why You Need To Be More Than ‘Natural’ At Your Acting Audition

Casting directors typically audition almost a hundred actors (or more) a day. Assistant Casting Director (formerly of As the world turns) Kate Martineau Adams gives us an inside look at what casting directors are looking for and how an actor can stand out from the crowd.

Susan Dansby: Can you talk about how many people you might see for a role in a soap opera?

Kate Martineau Adams: Well, for roles like Reid Oliver (a great recurring role), we would only see actors from New York in that case; or people, possibly, who live in Los Angeles but would be available to hire in New York. So in that case, Mary Clay [Mary Clay Boland, Casting Director for As the World Turns] you would usually see around 80 actors for that role.

For a contract role, she would be seen by over 200 people from New York, Los Angeles, Miami, Canada, Chicago. We received tapes from everywhere. And in the old days, when we had real money, she would fly to Los Angeles. But then after that, we started getting people to record themselves and send it in. It would be an exhaustive search for a contract role.

Susan Dansby: When you look at 80 actors who are reading the same scene, what is the percentage, just in a ballpark, of how many of those people are giving you the exact same cursory reading?

Kate Martineau Adams: Probably mid 90%.

Susan Dansby: Exactly. So that’s where that training really comes in, in terms of adding texture and uniqueness.

Kate Martineau Adams: Usually we organize a big session; So, we’ll see maybe 60 people in one day. That’s a full day of us watching the same five-page scene, over and over again. When you get the exact same reading, over and over again, at some point you just start checking a bit. So it really surprises you when someone comes in and does something a little bit different.

A lot of people don’t really make decisions when they get their scene, they’re so focused on making it natural that it ends up being just… it’s a natural delivery; but it’s totally boring because nothing happens underneath. So you get exactly the same.

But when you have someone who thinks about the character, thinks about where that person is coming from and what they bring to the table as their own individual person, that’s when you have someone who makes these very specific decisions and has an answer for everything that’s going on in That scene. Either it’s an obvious question or it’s something more subtextual.

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