Helen McCready, C.S.A., a Canadian citizen, began working as an actor in 1985 in Vancouver, British Columbia. She started out as an extra on the hit TV show “21 Jump Street”. As a casting director, she is dedicated to connecting talent to the film & television industry professionals. Read more about Helen in the interview below…
What first interested you in the film industry?
I started back on the show 21 Jump Street as a wrangler and as a featured talent for this show, Booker and a few other Cannell shows, at the time. My love was always the theater, whether in a play or doing Improv comedy. I did tons of commercial work back then, too. My break was on a pilot called “Top of the Hill”. We shot 6 episodes? I forget, but it didn’t make it thorough pilot season. I was very excited and on a high for about 6 months we when were shooting it! Then it canceled was back to reality and looking for work.
What do you look for in casting an actor?
It all starts with the physical look (doesn’t mean GQ or Vogue…just whatever my director is looking for :0) and then for the audition, I expect the actor to be prepared. They can find out more how to do that in a book I have written “Audition & Book It!” http://www.auditionandbookit.com
Has it always been easy for you in the business?
This business is never easy but once you’ve been bitten it is very hard to resist!
What are some of the perks from working in film?
I get wonderful invites to actors theater plays, stand-up comedy gigs, improve shows etc…I’m always very entertained and grateful to be invited AND I have found some amazing talent by attending!
What inspires you to stay in the industry?
I love the business of show business. I love actors and enjoy being able to help them along the path of their careers.
What advice would you give the youths of film to keep pushing on?
Training! Training! Training! So many actors do not do near enough training and it shows in the audition room. Also, be careful of being approached by scammers. Unless it is accredited school DO NOT pay any company thousands of dollars for showcases, headshots, empty promises etc.
Can you tell me more about National Actors Day?
I’m so very grateful and aware that without actors I would not have a job so I took it upon myself to begin a NATIONAL ACTORS DAY. This is about the celebration of all actors from extras to listers but mostly about the everyday actor that works so hard and doesn’t get recognized. When an actor auditions, they spend their own time, gas, money to do it and may do hundreds throughout their career—all at their expense not knowing if they will get the job. I think that the industry should appreciate it more than we do. Actors deserve a great deal of respect for what they do and what we put them through to cast a film or tv show.
Is this an exclusive event?
No, it will be open to everyone. Still working out all the details but I am also working on a documentary called “ACTORS?” about the actors struggle in this industry. My executive producer and I have interviews talent from extras to list talent (Doris Roberts, Alan Thicke, Ed Asner, Robert Loggia, Dee Wallace to name a few) and also agents, managers, etc at all levels. We have a beach shot we want to do, so I thought it would be fun to coordinate this the same day as the National Actor Day – any talent is welcome to be in it. The shot will take about an hour…we are going to have one of our list talent in the ocean holding an Emmy and have a bunch of actors walking towards him. Can’t announce which actor it will be yet!
Can we look forward to more events like this?
Of course :0)
Have you always been found loving your work?
Yes…it has it’s days where you feel like quitting but, of course, never do.
What are a few of your favorite films?
I’m a softy at heart so it would have to be “Sleepless In Seattle”, “Beaches”, “Eat, Pray, Love”, “Maid In Manhattan” most love stories or romantic comedies.
What would one have to do to gain your interest as an actor?
Have a resume full of training and a good headshot.
What makes you a unique individual from the rest?
I think I’m very approachable for a casting director. I like the social networks and try and answer questions from actors whenever I can.
Is there anything you wish to share about yourself that no one else knows?
The day I retire (which I hope is not too soon!) I would love to go back to directing community theater. I did it many years ago and really loved it and the creativity that surrounded it.
What do you look forward to in upcoming years?
Lots of work! :0)
Kale – Thanks so much for the interview. It’s been a real pleasure.
Interview by Kale Slade
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