Melody Stewart Is the Secretary of Now Casting, President at iActing Studios which provides live stream acting classes and the screenwriter of the film In The Way; here is a link to her blog:
Q: What inspired you to start Now Casting?
A: Actually, my husband, Bob Stewart started Now Casting with his partner Rick LaFond in 2002. It had been a dream of his for many years. He was an actor with an agent in LA but he found it difficult to have any real control over his career. He founded Now Casting so that actors would be able to submit themselves for work directly to Casting Directors, which at the time was just not done, at least legally. But that’s another story. After looking for investors for years he finally decided to start it up on a shoe string, with money we had saved. I was still working as a teacher and was able to support us for a while so that he could focus full time on the business. My faith in him and his hard work paid off and Now Casting took off fast. He and Rick hired other actors to answer the phones, sign people up for the services, etc. because they wanted it to be a company started by actors and run by actors – people who really knew the business from an insider’s perspective. So, I’m an original investor in Now Casting and Secretary of the company.
Q: What kind of services do you offer?
A: Actors can post their headshots and resumes on our site as well as create their own website on Now Casting. As I mentioned before, actors can submit themselves for roles directly to the casting director as well as use our other services for actors. We offer “Now Postcards” where an actor can send out postcards to agents, managers and casting directors about themselves and a show that they are currently in. We also offer the most up to date agent and casting director database in the industry. This enables actors to find the most current business address of the casting director or agent and what projects they are currently working on. We offer demo reel services so that actors can show clips of their past work from television and film. We have an e-magazine with articles ranging from interviews with well known actors, directors and other industry professionals as well as film reviews and other topics pertinent to acting.
Q: How is it different from other casting sites?
A: Now Casting is different from other actor’s sites in many ways. We were the first. I know everyone says that but really, we were. We were the first to offer high quality, union roles for actors for which they could submit themselves and for which Casting Directors wanted to get submissions from actors directly. This was a very big deal at the time and actors were really excited about it. A few years later other companies came along but have not done it as well and as honestly as Now Casting. Bob and Rick took great pains in providing actors with services they would actually use, which could help them further their careers and they have the success stories to prove it.
Q: What is Now Casting’s greatest success story?
A: We have had many actors write in to us with their own personal success stories from using our site. Their agent hadn’t been submitting them much, they went on our site and submitted themselves for roles and ended up landing great roles in tv and films. They were able to take more control of their careers and felt more empowered because of it. Each story makes us proud and together they make up our greatest success story.
Q: What are some common misconceptions about film casting?
A: I think people generally don’t understand what a significant role “type” plays in casting for tv and film. Type-casting is huge. It has to be because each character is unique and needs to stand out both physically as well as in the story. So many actors think they didn’t get the role because of a bad audition or some other issue but many times it was a matter of pairing them with another actor in height or some other physical trait.
Q: What is iActing Studios?
A: iActing Studios is another first in the industry. We have gathered a group of the top acting teachers in Los Angeles, recorded their classes and put them online for anyone in the world to watch and learn from. These teachers have fantastic resumes, working with the top actors in the industry and now they can impart their knowledge to anyone interested in learning, not just to actors able to come to their classes in LA. We also have live, streaming events at our studio with famous actors such as Ed Begley Jr. and Jason Alexander, both wonderful teachers in their own rights.
A: Well, Bob and Rick had met and worked with many of the teachers and other industry professionals so they basically called them up and asked them if they would be interested. Happily, they were and Bob and a programmer built the site.
Q: If you could recast any famous film role what would it be?
A: Sorry, I don’t have an answer for this one.
Q: What is In The Way about?
A: In The Way is a short film about a woman who can’t get her life together at all. She is notoriously late for a job she hates. She has a crush on her beleaguered and perpetually grumpy boss. In short, she’s kind of a mess. In the film she learns what she wants and how to reconcile that with what her life is at the moment.
Q: What qualities did you look for in casting the film?
A: Mainly, I just looked for someone who could act. The character had to be within the age range specified, late 20’s early 30’s, but other than that she could be any race, height, hair color etc. We had to pair her with the male lead who was already cast and that ended up being a bit of a challenge because he is 6’4”. It came down to two women both of whom I really liked but one was really short, about 5’3” and one was 5’9”, so we went with the 5’9”. Interestingly, many times during the audition process the women auditioning told me that they could really identify with the character and that their lives were similar. This was very gratifying for me although I hoped their lives got better!
Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects:)