Mastering SAG-AFTRA Open Door

Tonight I will make my fourth appearance at Open Door, and I’m excited to meet new talent. This year is especially interesting because a) the original date was postponed due to the hurricane and b) this is the first year that Open Door will take place under the SAG-AFTRA umbrella.

After a few years of meeting talent at Open Door, I have some key advice for actors that applies to any meeting with a casting director.

1. Do your research!

Before you meet me, learn a little bit about me and my company. It’s not that hard, I have a website after all. Also, there is this great website called Google that is really helpful for searches. Don’t ask me about voice overs or reality TV, the slightest research would let you know that I don’t cast those projects.

2. Be Prepared!

Please, please, please have an up-to-date headshot and resumé AND if for some reason you don’t, please, please, please don’t sit there apologizing for your inadequate materials. Be prepared, and if you aren’t prepared: FAKE IT! You’re an actor, right?

3. Look Busy!

Whether it’s been 3 days or 3 years since your last project, you’ve got to look busy. Tell me about a show you’re working on, a class you’re taking, or a recent audition/ callback that went well. When I ask what you’ve done recently (and I will) if you say nothing, that makes me think that you are not professional or worse, not talented. An actor is always acting, even if it’s a reading or a student film.

4. For the love of all things holy, don’t shake hands (unless the hand is extended to you first)

Every year at Open Door, the organizers tell the actors not to initiate a handshake with the agents and casting directors and every year at least three people walk up and try to shake my hand. Honestly, it usually doesn’t really bother me, but others in my profession are vehemently opposed to handshakes. It’s not about you personally, it’s about germs. When we see 10, 20, 30, 100 people a day…. that’s a lot of germs. So just don’t do it because most casting professionals don’t like to shake hands AND it makes you look inexperienced when you come in for a shake.

5. Stay Positive

This is not the time to complain about how you aren’t getting enough auditions or to badmouth the last director you worked with. Keep it positive, even if the last thing you worked on was a nightmare, find something positive to say about it.

6. Follow Up!

In the course of our meeting you will probably get my contact information (if you don’t have it already). In the next three days, follow up! Send me an email that basically thanks me for meeting you and asks that I keep you in mind for future projects. HOWEVER, DO NOT CALL!!!! Most casting directors don’t have the time or inclination for phone calls. I like emails, but others prefer snail mail, so find out how you should follow up and then follow directions.

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