Several years ago I agreed to participate in my only experience with a showcase ("Casting and Cash," by Deborah Caulfield, March 8). Naively, I thought I would be able to offer something to actors that might help them gain knowledge of the casting process.
I discovered that I was expected to evaluate the acting ability of these performers. When I went home that night I felt very uncomfortable. I realized that what was really going on was that the host of this event was making money from these actors, and that, in effect, I was being paid not really to offer anything educational, but to see these actors solely for the purpose of possibly hiring them.
I felt used. I am a casting director. I am not, nor do I pretend to be, an acting teacher. That night I decided never to participate in one of these showcases again.
The beginning of an actors career is a very vulnerable and sensitive time. I personally feel uncomfortable taking money from an actor for the sole privilege of seeing his work. I feel it is my job to do that without additional compensation from an artist who is probably struggling just to get the rent paid.
Ultimately, when all is said and done, all we have left as casting directors is our sense of professionalism, self-respect and our reputations. I have to go home at night and feel good about what I do.
I believe that choosing to view a showcase and receiving money for it should be a personal and individual decision. I encourage the other members of my profession to think very, very carefully about what it is they are doing, why they are doing it, and how it affects the reputation of us all.
Talent and Casting
Columbia Pictures Television