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What does a Talent Director do?

By Darlene Goodman
Updated Mar 02, 2024
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A talent director, also known as a casting director, helps the director of a film, television show, play, or commercial to choose actors for roles in his or her production. Talent directors are responsible for finding actors, negotiating contracts, holding auditions, and managing the casting budget. They are usually required to work with actors, talent agents and agencies, and directors in order to serve the needs of the production.

Usually, the first thing a talent director will do is review a script, making notes about all its casting requirements. He or she will probably make a comprehensive list of all the roles it has — lead, minor-speaking, and non speaking — and all the scenes where extras are needed. At some point in this process, the talent director will probably discuss with the director or producers their preferences, vision, or requirements for the cast.

A talent director's first responsibility is to the director. He or she helps the director find actors that are appropriate for each role, often seeking out actors for the director to review in an audition or a series of auditions. As a rule, the director controls the actor choice for all speaking roles, especially the lead ones. On large scale productions such as feature films, the director often entrusts the talent director with all other casting decisions, giving only general instructions for casting extras and non-speaking roles.

Talent directors work with talent agents and agencies to create a pool of potential actors for the director to choose from for each role. For lead roles and roles where a director has already picked his or her preferred actor, talent directors will contact the chosen actors, often through their agents, to see if they are willing and available to work on the production. The talent director may schedule a reading with a chosen actor so the director can get a feel for whether the actor will suit the role.

Talent directors also often hold casting calls and auditions to evaluate actors. Auditions offer the director and talent director the opportunity to see a variety of actors playing a particular role, often using the same set of lines. The number of actors performing in an audition will vary according to the size of the production, the scope of the role, and the needs of the director. Directors often wish to review a particular actor's performance, so talent directors usually record auditions.

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Discussion Comments

By anon347913 — On Sep 11, 2013

This article only gives information on what talent directors do. It does not give enough information on what they make and what kind of education it takes to gets this job.

By nony — On Jul 17, 2011

One thing that I’d like to impress upon everyone here is that real talent managers will not charge to represent you.

They make their money when they get you roles, and they get a commission from what you’re paid.

The reason that I mention this is that some people are traveling throughout the country offering workshops and talent shows for aspiring actors. These may be useful in and of themselves, but they usually cost thousands of dollars.

We almost signed up for one but decided not to, at the last minute. Remember that a real agent will not charge you. Like I said, there may be some benefit in workshops and special conventions and so forth, but this is not the way the business really works, from what I found out.

By Charred — On Jul 16, 2011

@Mammmood - I believe that for most people, acting agents are definitely their foot in the door to this business.

It’s a catch-22, however, as many agents won’t work with you unless you have experience. Your daughter got a lucky break.

For people without such luck, I think volunteering is the answer. That means you should get involved in community theater, any school productions, take classes, anything at all that you can put on a resume which can give you an edge and show a prospective agent that you’re serious about the business.

Usually if you take acting classes they will be taught by a professional actor, and he or she can give you some insider tips as well.

By allenJo — On Jul 16, 2011

@Mammmood - Congratulations, that’s quite an achievement.

I’ve heard of stories like that, and like you said, they don’t happen often. Usually with kids talent the casting directors are looking for more of a certain look; for older actors it’s a combination of looks plus acting experience.

In the stories I’ve heard the really dedicated child actors will move to LA. I don’t know if it’s the kid pulling mommy and daddy to LA or the other way around.

However, for serious talent LA is the place to be. You have more opportunities for auditions, not only for movies but for modeling as well. Some kids start out modeling first and then break into acting later.

By Mammmood — On Jul 15, 2011

My daughter is half Asian, and got her first break in the movies by sheer serendipity.

There was a Hollywood movie that was being shot near where we live and they needed someone to play the lead kid role, which was supposed to be Asian.

Well, my daughter wasn’t even booked with a talent agency at the time. But through the grapevine we found out that they needed a child actor with that look, and she auditioned.

She did well in the audition, and so they asked for a second audition. The next thing I know, she landed the part and we had a chance to meet with some of the Hollywood actors who helped with that production.

Afterwards we signed her up with a kid's talent agency and she was able to do a few commercials and public service announcements.

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