So you want my arts job: Casting Director

Casting directors might be the first person a performer meets to discuss a role, but they don't make the call on who gets the job. Lauren Mass demystifies her career.
[This is archived content and may not display in the originally intended format.]

Image supplied

Lauren Mass has established herself as a leading Casting Director in Melbourne. Upon graduation from The National Theatre, her innate understanding of both actors and their process assisted with her transition to playing a vital role behind the camera in the casting process.

Her passion for discovering emerging talent and insisting upon a diverse representation of all Australians has contributed to her continued success in this industry.

How do you explain what you do to your parents?

It can be a challenge, sometimes! They understand the basics of my work but don’t always grasp the intricacies of my day-to-day. Thankfully, my parents have always been supportive of my artistic endeavors. From a young age, it was clear that my passion for the arts, in particular performance, would provide me with a path to my ideal future. When explaining my role and how it works to my parents – or anyone, for that matter – I always say it starts with the brief. The brief has all of the information relating to the project and it goes from there. It’s my job to provide the best selection of talent suited to each role.

Once the audition process begins, I work closely with the talent and guide their performance to match the director’s vision. I also play a crucial part post-auditions liaising with agents and producers to ensure everything goes as smoothly as possible.

How did you get your start in your career?

My start in the casting world began as a happy accident. Back then, having just graduated from Drama School, I was offered an opportunity to experience the industry from a different perspective.

Casting was something I had never really considered, but I quickly discovered that it was something I not only loved but also happened to be good at. I feel very fortunate that my everyday consists of working with such a high calibre of other creatives.

What is the biggest misconception about working as a casting director?

The biggest misconception about working as a casting director would have to be that we have the final say on who gets confirmed for the job. While we are the first face a performer sees and can discuss the role with, we are an agency working on behalf of the client, not actually the client itself – people can sometimes confuse that. The role of a casting director is to help extract an actor’s best performance in order to ensure the client sees their true potential. My background in acting has provided me with invaluable insight and allows me to finesse auditions and marry it to what the client is seeking.

In an interview for your job, what would you be looking for?

This industry is all about working with others. From concept to auditions, and beyond, there are so many people and wonderful brains at work through every step of the process that you really need to be a team player. Teamwork, and understanding that not everyone may approach a task the same way, is vital. When auditioning, well, you really need a lot of love and stamina so that you can meet and work with scores of performers each day. Passion for the work, empathy for the talent and an understanding of performance are key assets in this role.

What’s the best thing happening in casting at the moment and why?

The prominence, relevance and the importance of representation and diversity are, thankfully, things that have come into focus across our industry. It is very important that we showcase the entirety of the Australian population, rather than just a small segment. Size, ethnicity, creed, gender and sexuality are so varied from person-to-person and the more we are able to reflect this across our main channels of communication and entertainment, the more we benefit as a society.

More stories in this series:

So you want my arts jobs: General Manager

So you want my arts job: Google Arts and Culture lead

Richard Watts is ArtsHub's National Performing Arts Editor; he also presents the weekly program SmartArts on Three Triple R FM, and serves as the Chair of La Mama Theatre's volunteer Committee of Management. Richard is a life member of the Melbourne Queer Film Festival, and was awarded the status of Melbourne Fringe Living Legend in 2017. In 2020 he was awarded the Sidney Myer Performing Arts Awards' Facilitator's Prize. Most recently, Richard was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Green Room Awards Association in June 2021. Follow him on Twitter: @richardthewatts

Unlock Padlock Icon

Support us to keep providing
Arts news and jobs

Become a member and unlock access to jobs and all premium articles and news content