Casting Director Erica Jensen on Distinguishing the “Good Actors From the Great”

Theatre

“I love discovering new talent and introducing that talent to others.” – Casting Director Erica Jensen

Artios Award-winning casting director Erica Jensen, one of the principals of the casting agency Calleri Jensen Davis, has been involved in casting in film, television, and on stage. She spoke to Forbes about what she enjoys most about casting and shared an example of actor whose audition changed her perception of casting.

Jensen highlights the important role that casting directors play in creating positive chemistry on a set. She explains, “A casting director is like a match-maker, finding the perfect actor for the perfect role. Casting Directors are also the middle-person between actors and directors. They have skills that fit many areas and tend to change hats depending on the situation.”

Casting is something that Jensen genuinely loves doing, and she says, “I love matching artists with artists who inspire each other and collaborate to generate great stories. And I love discovering new talent and introducing that talent to others.”

As an example of someone that she discovered, Jensen points to actor John Ortiz, who has appeared in films like Fast & Furious, American Gangster, Jack Goes Boating, and Silver Linings Playbook and is one of the founders of the LAByrinth Theater Company. She recalls:

“Very early in my career we were having auditions for an Edward Albee play and the actor, John Ortiz, came in to audition. We had already seen a few guys who I thought were pretty good. Well, John came in and owned the room. He was completely off-book. He used the space, he fully inhabited the character. It was almost as if he didn’t care about impressing us, the people behind the table. It was like we weren’t even there.

He took up space. And he was mesmerizing. I couldn’t take my eyes off him. I was so moved, I cried. He is a great actor. He stood out from the rest because he was so confident and not worried about pleasing us. He wanted to do good work. And that was an ‘Ah Ha’ moment for me. It showed me how to distinguish the good actors from the great actors.”

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