Any day an actor gets a callback is a great day. If your child gets callbacks consistently, you know they are on the right track. A callback does not mean they have the role yet, but it does mean that the casting director liked what they did, and wants another look at them.
Sometimes the news that your kid got a callback comes right away—even as quickly as the same day as the audition! More often you’ll hear within a few days, and occasionally, depending on the scope of the project and the size of the search, it can be over a month. Often a callback will be in front of more people than the initial audition—the director might be in the room, or some of the executive producers. Or it might be the same people, but possibly new sides. Or all of the above. At any rate, a callback indicates that your child is on a relatively short list for the role, which is exciting.
Unless you are asked otherwise, it’s generally a good idea for your kid to wear the same outfit to a callback as they did for the first audition. This helps jog the memory of the casting director, and the fact that your child was called back means also that they probably thought it worked. Some people photograph their kids as they go to auditions and/or make note of what they’re wearing to which one, because if there are a lot of auditions happening and a few weeks go by before a callback, it can be difficult to remember what was worn!
The odds of being given direction in a callback are increased, and they frequently take a little longer in the room. This is good news. The longer your child is in the room, the more the casting director is thinking about them.
Most roles will only go to one or two callbacks, but high stakes ones like leads can have seemingly endless rounds, which end up in chemistry reads and screen tests. Before joining the Disney family, Dove did seven rounds of callbacks for a lead in a one-hour major network drama, including three screen tests. It was agonizing. Essentially there was a disagreement between the creative team and the executive in charge of the show. The writer, director, and executive producers all thought Dove was perfect for the role, even going so far as to rewrite the script to sound more like her, and asking her to dye her hair darker—which we did.
But the executive in charge—who never met her—thought she was too “sexy”-!! After about a month of this, the executive pulled rank and insisted on casting another girl. It was one of the few times Dove actually cried after not getting a role. The loss of something that felt so real at that point was hard. But it was a very good learning experience, and two years later, the director of that show was an executive producer on Barely Lethal, a PG-13 movie where Dove was cast as the supporting lead. He remembered that experience as vividly as we did. A good example of how small this town can be, and how important it can be to get in front of as many casting directors, directors, and producers as possible.
Sometimes, if the chemistry between two or more roles is very important to the project, the casting director will hold chemistry reads—which are also known as chemistry tests, or mix-and-match sessions. They will literally try different combinations of actors together to see which ones are the most compelling.
If your child has made it this far, congratulations—you know they are down to the final few for consideration. At this point, probably any of the choices would work—the question is now which choices make the most sense together, as well as any other considerations. This stuff is truly subjective and out of the hands of an actor. For example, it may be decided that the heights of the actors don’t work together, or they are too similar physically. Even projects that cast “blind,” or “non-traditional”—for example, ignoring race as a factor—will still seek to balance out looks. There is no way to deal with this except for your child to show up and give it their best, knowing that if they aren’t the final choice, it was something that was out of their hands.
Knowing how capricious the final casting choice can be makes it less personal in my eyes. And if your kid is regularly making it to this level and still not getting the role, there are several things to consider. Is there something that they are doing or not doing that may be an issue? Sometimes your agent or manager can talk to the casting director and get feedback. Maybe a little coaching is in order. Or maybe it’s just not their time yet. But you can be reasonably sure that if they are coming so close so often, that one of these times will be theirs.
NEXT: Screen Tests
My book, The Hollywood Parents Guide, available on Amazon contains everything I wish I’d known when Dove and I started this journey, and will save you untold amounts of time, money, and stress. Full of information you MUST know, it also features stories from parents of other kids who’ve made it!
Or book an hour consulting with me to come up with an individualized plan that takes your own unique needs into account. For about the cost of an hour with a professional acting coach, you can get your questions answered and a road map to help you move forward toward your dream.
Invest a little in your kid’s future today.
Did you enjoy this post? Share it!