Casting is like the NFL Draft

I love sports.  I wish more actors followed sports because the athletic world is fulled of drama and athletes & actors go through similar experiences in their careers.  I particularly love the NFL.  I’m a huge Miami Dolphins fan, and so like every other true NFL fan, I spent a portion of last night watching the first round of the NFL Draft.  For those unfamiliar, the NFL Draft is an annual event where the 32 NFL franchises select players coming out of college to join their teams.  The order of the draft is determined by the team’s record from the previous season with the worst team going first and the Super Bowl champions going last.  A lot of trades ensue which change the order around significantly, and at the end of seven rounds, each team has some new young players.

The process starts long before draft day, each team has numerous scouts (who are kind of like casting directors) who follow players through college, and then there are numerous combines (auditions), pro days (callbacks), try outs (more callbacks), and meetings where the athletes are tested on their speed, agility, and strength.   Finally, draft day comes and each team chooses the player the management believes will have the best impact on their team.  There are many elements that factor into these choices; each team is looking for players to fill a specific position (or role) and the player should have a high level of skill (or talent) as well as potential for growth and development in the league (can you take direction and grow in the role?).

Then, there is something else.  The sports analysts call them “intangibles”.  What are intangibles?  They are things that you can’t quite put your finger on, but they affect your opinion of a prospect.  “Intangibles” come down to things like personality, attitude, work ethic,  leadership skills, charisma, the way you present yourself, the way you express yourself, the strength of your handshake, your drive & passion, how genuine you seem, whether you make eye contact, your leadership potential, your willingness to learn,  and the way you speak just to name a few.  “Intangibles” can cause a player’s draft stock to rise or plummet (just ask Tim Tebow & Jimmy Clausen).  When choosing between players of commensurate skill and ability, NFL management teams look at the “intangibles” as the deciding factor, and so do directors, producers, and casting directors.  When you have people of relatively equal talent to choose from, often times it comes down to who is more likeable or who will fit in best with the other actors we have.  What are your “intangibles”? What do they say about you?  Are your “intangibles” getting you cast or causing your stock to plummet?

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