Diane Heery, a CSA member since 2000, is currently represented onscreen with “Creed,” starring Michael B. Jordan and Sylvester Stallone. She explains to Backstage what makes for a successful audition, what actors can do to impress her, and why she wishes she’d worked on the Harry Potter series.
CSA member since... 2000.
Upcoming credits: “Creed,” “The Benefactor,” “Equity,” “Slow Learners,” and the new Untitled M. Night Shyamalan project.
What’s your typical day like?
I don’t think we ever have a “typical” day! We spend a lot of time learning about new talent, making lists, taping auditions…
What do you do when you’re not working?
I really enjoy getting outside when possible, hiking, kayaking.
How do you choose what projects you work on?
We’re in a “regional” market, so we work on anything that needs talent: film, TV, commercials, industrials, voiceovers. I really like to work on projects where we have a connection with the director.
Before actual auditions, how does the casting process begin?
We like to sit down with the director, and discuss his/her vision for the project. It’s our job to help make that vision come to life.
What is the most common audition room mistake you see?
It kills me to see an actor come in unprepared. Also, many times the actor doesn’t hear the directions and adjustments given to them. The actor needs to hear and absorb that information—we are there to help the actor get the job.
What do you want every actor walking into your room to know?
The audition process is just that—a process. Understand what is required of you, be confident, and relax!
What makes for a successful audition tape?
Having an actor nail the read: He/she understands the script, the emotion, the situation. Everything clicks and falls into place.
Any projects you wish you had worked on?
Oh, so many! I love working with kids, so I think helping to find the kids for the Harry Potter series would have been great, seeing those talented people grow up.
In addition to open calls, where do you find new talent?
We get to as much theater as possible, and recently have been seeing some new talent showcasing themselves on Web series.
What is the best way for actors to build a strong relationship with you?
Be that actor that is always ready for anything. Always prepared and always looking for ways to develop your talent.
How important is training versus experience to you?
I think there’s a good balance needed between training and experience. And good actors know that their training never ends. I think that improv has become one of the most important skills that an actor can have.
What makes a successful casting session?
When all of the individual elements just fall into place. I love it when a director will turn to us and say that he has too many good choices. Recently, we had a very well known director say that he was so impressed by the talent that he might have to write some additional scenes so he could include everyone that he liked.
What advice would you give to someone who is looking to go into casting as a career?
Never stop looking for opportunities to learn. Go to theater, meet new people, start your own lists of actors. Intern with a CSA casting director.