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THEATRICAL CASTING DIRECTOR, JACKIE BRISKEY

Longtime theatrical casting director Jackie Briskey has had a fantastic run of enviable assignments over the years, but like most casting people, she didn’t begin her career in that particular end of the business. Jackie spent several of her early showbiz years performing management and public relations duties for (are you ready for this?!) the …

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Longtime theatrical casting director Jackie Briskey has had a fantastic run of enviable assignments over the years, but like most casting people, she didn’t begin her career in that particular end of the business. Jackie spent several of her early showbiz years performing management and public relations duties for (are you ready for this?!) the Smothers Brothers, Kenny Rogers And The First Edition, and many others.

Jackie segued into casting when she was hired by MTM Productions, in the 1970s. Her very first show was “WKRP In Cincinnati”! From that auspicious beginning, she went on to cast the pilot for “The Bob Newhart Show”; “Gloria”, starring Sally Struthers, for the great Norman Lear; “Valerie”, starring Valerie Harper; “The Hogan Family”; “Perfect Strangers”; “Midnight Caller”; 5, count ’em, five Danielle Steele Movies of the Week; and countless other pilots and episodics. In 1999, she took the plunge into daytime television as the casting director of NBC’s wild and crazy soap opera, “Passions”, where she has remained ever since. (This candid shot was taken on the “Passions” set. You’ll just have to guess which actor has his arms around Jackie.)

Needless to say, Jackie has witnessed both the sublime and the terrible in her casting offices over the years. When asked to share some of her thoughts on the dos and don’ts of auditioning, she didn’t hesitate.

At the top of her list of don’ts…too much perfume or cologne. In fact, like most of her fellow CDs, Jackie would really prefer it if no one ever entered her office smelling of anything but fresh air! Even after an actor is hired, the problem can persist. Many a time she has had to go to a set and as diplomatically as possible request that an actor refrain from wearing any more of his or her way-too-potent cologne, because it was giving everyone else a headache.

Chewing gum during an audition. Don’t.

Props are never necessary during a cold reading. They make the actor look amateurish and they distract from the performance. She said that the same applies to “indicating” with one’s hands. The moment an actor starts using a prop or his hands to indicate something, the casting director, the director, and the producers will all find themselves looking at the prop or the hands, instead of where they should be looking: The actor’s eyes.

As a matter of fact, Jackie emphasized several times that in her opinion, the eyes are the most important tools that an actor has at his disposal. The people who will decide whether an actor is hired or not – the casting directors and the people who hire them – want to see what’s going on behind and through those eyes. She also noted that if a “reader” has been provided at the audition (someone who is there to feed the cues to the one who’s auditioning), the actor should make eye contact with him or her.

Another distraction for both men and women is too much or just plain unusual jewelry. Ditto clothing that’s so eye-catching it almost forces the viewer’s attention away from the performance. Never wear clothing that has words or logos written on it; even a pro like Jackie has found herself more interested in interpreting what’s written across an actor’s chest than in how he is interpreting his scene!

Actors should always have their sides in their hands during their auditions and should be turning the pages as they proceed. There’s nothing more embarrassing than going up on the lines and not being able to locate them on the page, as well.

Ask questions before you start the audition – that is, of course, if you have any. Jackie knows that not every single casting director will offer to answer questions, but the actor should take the initiative if it’s a pertinent, serious question.

Always be on time. If you know you’re going to be delayed, have your agent call the casting office and let them know. Or rather, ask if that’s going to be all right. If you were scheduled for the last slot of the day, guess what: It will NOT be all right to arrive late.

Remember to always take a headshot and resume with you, even if you think the CD already has one. Do not put your home address on the resume – it’s dangerous. If you don’t have representation, just put your cell phone number (not the home phone) on there; otherwise, you should have your reps listed.

Now, here’s a suggestion that a lot of actors, both young and old, should take to heart: Stop talking so much. A lot of actors, perhaps out of nerves or perhaps in an attempt to ingratiate themselves with the CD, rattle on about totally inconsequential things that have nothing to do with the task at hand, which is their audition. Nobody really cares if there was a lot of traffic on the way over, or that you had to take your cat to the vet this morning, or how tough it is to be…an actor! Just enter, be polite and warm, do your job and try to exit gracefully. If the CD wants more conversation or to ask questions, let him or her take the lead, not the other way around.

Jackie says that most actors are good judges of how they did in an audition, be it good, bad or indifferent. “Over the years, I’ve had many agents call to tell me how well their client thought he did and how excited they were. That is, until I had to tell him how awful his client was. On the other hand, I’ve had agents call to apologize for a client who was sure he’d done horribly in the reading and I had to interrupt to tell the agent that I was just about to call to hire that client!”

Jackie’s advice is to simply do your best, say “thank you” and move on.

Longtime theatrical casting director Jackie Briskey has had a fantastic run of enviable assignments over the years, but like most casting people, she didn’t begin her career in that particular end of the business. Jackie spent several of her early showbiz years performing management and public relations duties for (are you ready for this?!) the …

Review Overview

User Rating: 4.65 ( 1 votes)
0

About Kris Malone

Kris Malone is the nom de plume of a longtime Hollywood talent agent. Kris created this website as a way for actors to improve their chances of making it in Hollywood, not as a way to reach the agency for possible representation. Kris wishes all of you actors out there the best of luck, laced with a big dose of reality and plain old common sense.

13 comments

  1. No part 2. Sorry. But if you’re hungering for more info, go to http://www.HollywoodPassport.blog.com. Some of those posts are here already, but not all.

    Glad you liked this one.

  2. Very energetic blog, I loved that a lot. Will there be a part 2?

  3. Appreciating the time and effort you put into your blog and in depth information youu present.
    It’s great to come across a blog every once in a while that isn’t the
    same outdated rehashed information. Excellent read!
    I’ve saved your site and I’m adding your RSS feeds to my Google account.

  4. Michael Donovan was happy to respond to this question. Here’s what he has to say:

    There are multiple theatre companies in the San Diego area: La Jolla Playhouse, the Old Globe, San Diego Rep, Moonlight and more. What I would do is contact each theatre and ask if they have any intern openings. It’s a great way to get your foot in the door. Some theatre companies use a New York casting director, and some also cast out of L.A., but they all need someone “at home” too. Best of luck!

  5. We’re passing this on to Jackie, even though it would really be more appropriate for Michael Donovan. Maybe we’ll ask him to respond, too…

  6. Christopher Korman

    I wanted to know the steps in becoming a casting associate for a theatre company.I live in San Diego and I’m not a novice when it comes to being able to decipher the difference between actors and versatile artists. My father was Harvey Korman and my ex-step father was George DiCenzo and my brother in law is Cotter Smith.I hope ypu can steer me in the right direction.I believe that casting should be about not playing it safe but to motivate casting directors to think outside the box and think like a writer how do then envision their material being delivered.

  7. Dear Jackie –
    Didn’t get a chance to say thank you for coming to the A.C.T. workshop last night. Asked for new contact info for you but the desk had none to give. Found this site instead. Glad you could pop by. I didn’t get a chance to read – but I’m glad you noticed my headshot. I’d been to that workshop last year – I came to meet you.

    Thank you for your time.
    Abigail Marie Young

  8. From the Editor:

    Andrey, you apparently did not search far enough into this website, because the answer to your question is right here, under “Agents and Managers”, in the PAYING YOUR DUES section.

    Keep reading and GOOD LUCK!

  9. Andrey Atanasov

    I’d like to be an actor so much but i dont know where to find an agent and how to chose this one over the other. Do you have any sugjestions ?
    Could you please help me with some names or give me any directions .
    Thank you so much.

  10. This is the Editor writing:

    Ms. Briskey is not currently casting anything, but when she starts up again, your agent (assuming that you’ll have one by then) will be able to submit you for anything that’s appropriate.

    She does not accept unsolicited submissions from actors – she only works with agents and managers – and certainly doesn’t give out her personal email address.

    Good luck!

  11. Ms. Briskey,
    I am the highest winner on the Moment of Truth Game Show. I’ve been working very hard in my acting classes and would love to get an audition wth you. I do not have an agent as of yet. May I have a direct email addredss to send my pic and resume.

    Thank you,

    Annette Nettie Nelson

  12. Hello, BlaZe!

    I am taking
    some time off after working on Passions for
    nine years. We have finished
    production and the series
    will complete its run in August.

    I just did a
    workshop with ITA West, but don’t have any
    immediate plans for another
    workshop at this time. I am
    sure our paths will cross in the future. Be sure
    to have
    you agent or manager submit you on my next project.

    Until then,
    I wish you success.

    Jackie Briskey

  13. Does Jackie have any workshops that I could attend. Honestly, I don’t need them for the acting end, but I just want her to see me and what I have to bring to the table?

    Thanks BlaZe

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