Spotlight on Casting Director Terry Berland, by Rachel Fulginiti
I first met Terry Berland as an actor eleven years ago, when I attended an on-camera commercial workshop. It was my first week in LA and she blew me away! Her direction was specific, insightful, and constructive. I loved her passion and her no-nonsense attitude. A few years ago, I had the pleasure of working with her again in a workshop setting, this time as a voice actor. Once again, I found her feedback tremendously helpful!
When I started coordinating the VO Pro Series for Deyan Institute, I knew right away I had to get her on the roster. I’m delighted to say she’ll be joining us this coming Saturday, July 19th!
Terry was kind enough to take time out of her busy schedule to answer a few questions about her successful career in Casting.
RF: How did you get into casting? Were you a performer first?
TB: I was never a performer, although I have taken acting lessons as a hobby and to experience it first hand. I was living in New York City. I got my first job at a Madison Avenue ad agency. Madison Avenue was the mecca of commercials at the time. I ended up in the Casting Department by chance; I was an assistant. Ad agencies do not have in-house casting departments any more. I worked my way up the corporate ladder and ended up being the Head of Casting at ad agency BBDO, which at the time was the third largest in the world. We would cast the on-camera and then the voice over portion of the ad.
RF: What types of projects do you like to work on the most? Can you recall a favorite job/project you enjoyed working on?
TB: I love all my projects. I love how casting a project starts out with a blank slate and how it starts taking shape and then solidifies. Casting objects is a lot of fun. Finding a voice that matches the personality of whatever it is, without putting on a fake character voice. Probably my most infamous casting was the Taco Bell Chihuahua voice. Every actor that came in for that was trying to “put on” a character voice. I had to keeping guiding every one to just be themselves, with a mischievous attitude: “This little critter likes to have fun and has a real sense of humor about life”.
RF: Oh wow, that ended up being so iconic; everyone loved that little guy! So, what’s your favorite part of your job? Your least favorite?
TB: My favorite part is having a day of fantastic auditions and sending them off to the client…and of course giving the booking to the talent. My least favorite is releasing someone from their avail.
RF: What do you listen for in a voice actor or performance? What makes it stand out?
TB: I listen for different things in different situations. If the part has a strong personality, I listen for the personality, not a performance or someone “doing” a personality. If it’s a “non-announcer, announcer”, I need to feel you are connecting to me. A talent stands out when they connect.
RF: How do you find new talent? Do you do most of your casting in person or via mp3?
TB: I find new talent by going to the theatre, watching theatrical reels, through agents, and through referrals and submissions. Most of my castings are (in-person) auditions in my studio. I speak directly to the ad agency producer and/or writer, who give me the feel of the spot they want voiced.
RF: What’s the most common mistake (s) that actors seem to consistently make? Is there anything you want actors to know when they come into the room (or send in auditions)?
TB: On the rare occasions that I have talent send me their auditions, I want two reads. That way I hear a little variation and I can choose which read I like best to send to my client. I think it’s a mistake to send me one read.
When a talent comes into a room with a casting director, they should be ready to be directed and “work”. This does not happen often, but since you are asking, please do not wear perfume or cologne.
The biggest mistake is for an actor who wants to get into voice over to think that it’s easy. Talent (often) take one introduction workshop and they want to make a demo right away. They don’t realize the nuances they have to be able to execute. They don’t realize they have to be able to take direction well.
RF: So true! Terry, thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me! Readers, be sure to check out Terry’s website – she has an entire section devoted to the actor! http://www.berlandcasting.com/
Terry Berland will be a Guest Director for the VO Pro Series at Deyan institute this Saturday July 19th from 10am-1pm.
Click the link to sign up!
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