Discretion: the following article contains information and advice that is practical, useful and based on extensive research, (with the aid of snacks). Sick of dreaming about being on Netflix, and just want to go be on Netflix? Read on for ways to get an audition for a Netflix show.
The beast, that is, Netflix.
I devote more time to watching Netflix, than I do to my boyfriend (well, I mean, I would, if I had one…). Netflix has become a household name, a code word for sex, and a lifestyle.
In terms of casting, Netflix gets brownie points for being open to unfamiliar names and faces. There is a huge amount of varied, interesting, unique, game-changing series and films produced and distributed by Netflix, which means more opportunities for varied, interesting, unique, game-changing actors. Aziz Ansari, Juan Pablo Raba, Alison Brie, Krysten Ritter, Taylor Schilling, Travis Fimmel, Claire Foy, Michelle Dockery, Brit Marling, Stephen Amell… I can probably stop there.
For these actors, it’s not like Netflix just rocked up at their house with a six-pack saying, “Hey mate, we like your style, wanna be in our show?” So how did they do it?
Vanessa Kirby talks about her experience auditioning for The Crown. Originally, she auditioned for a different role, and then heard nothing. Not long after, she was speaking with a friend who went in for the role of Margaret, who mentioned that they still hadn’t found the one. Then Kirby thought, “that’s because it’s me!” She immediately called her agent, and told them she had to go in for the role. Low and behold, 2 weeks later, she had the role.
K.J Apa, the star of Riverdale, had first auditioned for casting director David Rapaport, after having just stepped off a 12 hour flight, with very little time to prepare. “I’d just come over from New Zealand, and Riverdale was my first audition,” said Apa. “So I remember going to the studio, auditioning with Dave, and it was kind of nothing. Nothing was really there, nothing happened.” Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, the executive producer of Riverdale, decided to bring K.J. in again, stating that “K.J. read for us and he was immediately Archie Andrews. It was the right combination of earnestness and edge. And he played the guitar like a dream.”
Apa was better prepared for his audition this time around, bringing his electric guitar with him. “There were a couple Southern people in the theatre so I brung my guitar. I felt really confident after I played that song, because music comes really naturally to me and it’s always something I’ve been really passionate about.”
Carmen Cuba, with two Emmy awards under her belt, spoke with Deadline about casting the hit Netflix series, Stranger Things.
“We opened it up to kids all over the world. We saw nearly 2,000 kids internationally, but we didn’t do any open calls. We agreed that with the time constraints of shooting a TV show—their first show, that they were going to be writing, directing, and showrunning—that probably what we were going to end up with were kids who had at least some experience. That’s sort of where we drew the line. In the end, a few of them were on Broadway for years at a time, and they each had done at least one significant role. Millie was on a BBC miniseries where she was unbelievable; Finn [Wolfhard] had done an arc on a TV show, so none of them were inexperienced.”
Okay, enough case study. Let’s do this.
How to get in the room
Get the goods
Sad, but true: you won’t be taken seriously in this cut-throat industry without these things under your belt.
Get an agent
There are too many actors in the world right now, so it’s near impossible to get auditions without an acting agent. Casting Director’s simply do not have the time to trawl through thousands of reels, headshots and CV’s every day to find the one.
You’d be rich if you had a penny for every time StageMilk told you to ‘get an agent‘, but we say it because it’s true. Getting any agent will give you a step up, it will open you up to more possibilities, but signing with a top tier agent will definitely get you in the room frequently and for big gigs. But in saying that, there are ways around this. If you’ve got a fabulous reel, delicious headshots and a CV with some credits, you can hustle your way into the room. Just make sure it’s worth it. There is nothing worse than sweet-talking a leading casting director into seeing you, and then bombing your audition. Like a true Viking, choose your battles, and make them count. I’ll see you in Valhalla b#tchez .
Do your research
And here’s where I direct you to iMDB pro. Look into your favourite shows, look at the casting directors who worked on it, look at the actors, look at their agents. Bam. So much data, now in your hot, sweaty, desperate little hands.
Also subscribe to Hollywood Reporter, they post daily news about Film, TV and the business. If you can keep up to date with the big players in the industry, you won’t be thrown when you find yourself auditioning for them.
If you do manage to get an audition for a new pilot, optioned by Netflix, you bloody better be prepared. We talk in more depth here about preparing for an audition.
If an accent is required, make sure you brush up on whatever it is, so you can go in feeling confident. The last thing you want to be thinking about is your accent. Do a thorough vocal warm up before your audition, and spend some time getting comfortable in the accent before you go in.
Know your type
Don’t scale yourself down for a role, if anything, onwards and upwards, friends! We recently put together an article on understanding your type and how to use it to your advantage. And also how to ignore it – find your type as an actor (Article).
You can practice this in everyday life, and you will become a really groovy, interesting person if you do. I’m always talking about what makes people sexy, (mainly because I’m single and a teeny bit desperate) but it’s because I truly believe that risk-takers are very attractive, and casting director’s are human beings too, they look for these qualities in actors. Don’t believe me? Here’s Margot Robbie to back me up:
“In my head I was like, ‘You have literally 30 seconds left in this room and if you don’t do something impressive nothing will ever come of it. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime chance, just take it.’ And so I start screaming at him and he’s yelling back at me. And he’s really scary. I can barely keep up.
And he ends it saying, ‘You should be happy to have a husband like me. Now get over here and kiss me.’ So I walk up really close to his face and then I’m like, ‘Maybe I should kiss him. When else am I ever going to get a chance to kiss Leo DiCaprio, ever?’
But another part of my brain clicks and I just go, Whack! I hit him in the face. And then I scream, ‘Fuck you!’ And that’s not in the script at all. The room just went deadsilent and I froze.”
(Just in case you’ve been living under a rock, she got the role.)
There are so many crazy successful audition stories that all resulted in an actor taking a risk, knowing who they are and not caring about success or failure. Something to remember is that Casting Directors are on YOUR side. They want to see new faces, new talents and they want you to succeed in the room. So you can take that pressure off your shoulders. Give yourself permission to fail, and then I swear to you, you won’t.
Off you go children, be a Daredevil, G.L.O.W. and remember that Stranger Things have happened.
Don’t know where to start?
If you are serious about achieving this goal, it all starts with putting in the work. You have to get as good as you possibly can at acting so when that opportunity comes you can smash it out of the park. If you’re willing to put in the work and come train with us, learn more. (However, if you just want to get famous, this isn’t for you!)