This week The City Audition is proud to welcome guest blogger Katharine McDonough. She is a blonde ball of L.A. fierceness, most recently playing Eliza Dolittle in MTW's My Fair Lady and Emily O'Dowd in Empire at La Mirada. She auditions on both coasts, has worked at a talent agency and has terrific insight and perspective. Enjoy!
It’s 1:00 AM. You’re feeling anxious about your career, and you’re scouring all of your favorite casting websites for upcoming opportunities. You see a breakdown and notice a friend’s name in the corner. “Oh wow! Bobby is a casting assistant now? I should probably tell him I’m interested in this project!” Or “Suzanne is choreographing? I should let her know I’ll be at the ECC!” Your mind spirals into gig fantasies, as you imagine your LaDuca’s on the Mylar floor of a studio, smiling to yourself that you’ve finally figured out how to network to your advantage.
Before you send that hasty email or Facebook message in the middle of the night in the hopes of securing your big break, let’s take a second to discuss whether this is actually a good idea.
QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF:
• How well do I know this person? Have you and Bobby been out for drinks? Are you friends on Facebook? Is he someone you see on the regular at auditions? Or did you once exchange words at an opening night, and you’re not quite sure if he could match your name with your face? Being honest about your level of friendship can help you determine what is appropriate to ask of this person.
• Does this person know me professionally? Have you and Suzanne worked together? Has she seen you audition or perform recently? Can she attest to your talent and work ethic? Remember, Suzanne is putting her reputation on the line to recommend you. If you couldn’t count on her for a glowing letter of recommendation, you probably shouldn’t ask her for this kind of favor.
• What will reaching out to this person ultimately accomplish? Be honest with yourself. Can Bobby actually help you in some concrete way? Can he get you an appointment with casting? Can he recommend bringing you straight to callbacks? Can he secure you a video submission? If you don’t have a specific objective in mind, asking your friend to “put in a good word for you” will seem desperate and vague.
• What are the stakes? If Suzanne is actually a close friend, will crossing that professional/personal boundary lead to awkwardness in your friendship? Will it make her feel used or taken advantage of? Don’t sacrifice a friendship for the possibility of an audition—it’s never worth it.
• Can you handle rejection from this person? Maybe you’ve moved through this list of questions and feel it’s the right situation to ask for a ‘leg up.’ You have to be prepared for any response. If Bobby says he can’t help you in any way, or doesn’t think you’re right for the project, don’t argue, whine, or try to change his mind. Be gracious, or you risk ruining both your professional and your personal relationship. Thank him for responding, and then change the subject.
WHEN TO REACH OUT
➢ You’ve met or worked with this person in a professional capacity.
➢ You’re 100% sure he or she is a fan of yours,
➢ You have a concrete request to make.
➢ You’re at least 75% sure the door is open for you to make these kinds of requests.
WHEN NOT TO REACH OUT
➢ Pretty much all other times.
Ultimately, each decision of this kind is unique and incredibly personal. Give yourself a night to sleep on it, then go with your gut. Above all, if there’s a possibility of damaging a friendship or appearing desperate, don’t do it. In the long run, you need your friends more than you need a job. But Bobby or Suzanne also need terrific people. If you're sure that you're that person, and you're sure they would agree, send a short, sweet email:
Hey Bobby/Suzanne! Congratulations on casting/assisting with XYZ. Will you keep me in mind for the role of X? I've attached a headshot and resume. It would be great to work with you again. Thanks so much.
They might tell you to show up at the Equity call, they might get in touch with your agent for an appointment, they might tell you to send a video, they might tell you the role's already cast, or they might just say, "Thanks for reaching out." Regardless, your job is to be grateful and gracious.