It has always been a “catch-up game” for me when it comes to what I want to do in life. For acting, I didn't understand the business aspect of it until after I graduated from college.
It was not until 2 years into my acting career that I discovered the profession of casting – and how fascinating and unique this job is. I was so busy “catching up” with my acting career that I had focused all my attention on developing my skills and working as much as I could as an actor.
In fall of 2008, I started to attend workshops of various casting directors. I was inspired by the things they did, how they were able to provide opportunities and insightful knowledge to struggling actors, and helping them to be successful.
Everything just clicked. "That's what I want to do!"
I have been maintaining the casting forum on AARising.com since 2006. Prior to that, for two years I ran a casting mailing list where I would forward casting notices and audition opportunities to actors within my network who were suitable for the job. The motivation was purely driven by providing opportunities for the people I know.
I had been involved with casting all this time and I didn't even know it!
However, the only way to start a career as a legit (TV/Film/Theatre) casting director is through an internship.
I'm not in college anymore, therefore I cannot intern at a casting office in exchange for school credit. And at my current career level, coupled with financial obligations, it's impossible for me to intern for free. (Believe me; I would LOVE to do it if I could.)
So instead of thinking about it every day, I decided to do something about it.
From all the casting director seminars and workshops I've attended, I not only learned the audition techniques but I also picked up on their taste in actors; what they looked to get from actors that will correspond to their projects.
I keep in contact with producers and directors that I worked with in the past, while learning about the business side of production and contracts. I’ve gone through the SAG, AFTRA and AEA websites and downloaded all of the documents on union rules of hiring union talent.
Life is too short and I don't want to waste another second of it. That's why I'm here, and what's why you're reading this.
Why "Ethnic" Casting?
I remember once back in 2005 when I was watching Late Night with Conan O'Brien: There was a skit that was supposed to be a mock episode of the Extreme Home Make-Over show, but set in North Korea. The scene started out with a Korean housewife speaking to her husband about how she wants to live in a better environment. The entire conversation was spoken in Korean with English subtitles.
Then all of sudden, a game show host character came into the scene, speaking in Japanese, announcing to the couple that they have been selected to participate in the Korean Extreme Home Make-Over show. The Korean couple got very excited and jumped up and down.... and blah blah blah...
Now, if everything was muted and I only had to rely on the subtitles, it would have been a pretty funny scene.
For people who have no knowledge of any Asian languages, they probably laughed their butts off.
But for this particular scene, it confused me. I remember my sister leaning over and asking, "Why is he speaking Japanese? Isn't there a political issue between the two countries?"
I don't know if that was the intention of the skit, but it didn't work for me. I was very happy they used Asian actors but I felt they miscast the game show host (he was great by the way, but the skit would have been even better if he could speak Korean). I sort of got the impression the show was implying "All Asians look the same, regardless of what languages they speak."
I found that offensive.
Since I first stepped onto a film set, I have been meeting and keeping in touch with actors that I had a connection with. (Vibe, chemistry, whatever you want to call it.) It just so happened that almost 90% of them are Asian. (I know. I'm biased.) The New York Asian-American acting community is such a small circle that eventually we all get to know each other. I gradually expanded my brain to remember actors’ names and their performances from classes, workshops, and shows I attended.
There have been countless instances of my coming across character descriptions in breakdowns for projects that were so suitable for some people I know, but they were never given the chance to audition for the part.
Actors with representation can have their talent agent or manager “sell” them to the casting director. The casting director would then have the chance to invite that particular talent to the audition.
But what about the actors who don't have representation?
Because there are not enough ethnic roles available out there in film and TV, many agencies and management companies keep a very limited roster of their ethnic talent.
As an actor, I don't mind competition. May the hardest working, most suitable actor get the job.
However, the best actors don't always get the job. And some great actors don't even get invited to audition.
I want to be the one to change that.
I will work with agents and managers, as well as scouting non-represented actors and provide an equal opportunity for them to audition for the same part.
Specializing in Asian/Ethnic Casting?
There are plenty of casting directors in New York who cast all types of projects, ethnic or non-ethnic, and I will be happy to work with them to ensure that the "Korean Extreme Home Make-Over" incident won't ever happen again. (When you cast, you gotta cast it right!)
But hey, if you have a project that you are passionate about, and I have faith in your script, then I'll be glad to assist you regardless of the ethnicity of the characters.
Other professionals who double as both Actor and Casting Director: