Casting actresses (and actors) sucks. Seriously, it sucks. Our parent company, MidasOpCo, just finished shooting a digital commercial that required a lead actress.* Casting means you must judge and choose a human being over other human beings partially based upon looks.
That shouldn’t be shocking to anyone. Whenever a TV or digital campaign is created, the brand and agency work together to conceive of a story. That story almost always requires a certain “look.” For example, a skincare line may want to communicate its purity by using a pale skinned model. Therefore, no matter how talented the other actresses, only those with sufficiently pale skin will be considered.
Usually, the desired look is communicated before the casting call is publicly announced. Usually. Still, we get an ill feeling when helping to choose an actress based partially on a look, rather than a combination of look, talent and that special thing called “chemistry”.
It is certainly up to the brand to define their own look. We agree that the minutiae of look can be critical. Rather, we bemoan inflexible casting calls where brands only care about looks rather than talent or a creative imagination. We much prefer working with a broader mandate.
All in all, casting calls are tough. Casting actresses sucks. Hang in there actresses (and actors) of the world. Often it is truly them and not you!
*Note: several of our LRB contributors and editors also work for Midas Operating Company (MidasOpCo).