How Casting Director Mary Clay Boland Found Her Dream Job Description in an Internship Book

Would you rather listen to Mary Clay Boland than read about her?
Hear Full (23 minutes) Interview: Mary Clay Boland with Susan Dansby

Mary Clay BolandMary Clay Boland was the casting director for As the World Turns. During her successful career she’s worked in casting for theatre and film as well as television; and she’s received two Emmy®  Awards for Outstanding Achievement in Casting for a Drama Series. Here she answers the question, How Did You Get That Job?

Mary Clay Boland:  When I was in college, I was a theatre and communications (focusing on the critical analysis of television) major. And while doing theatre, my main focus was in directing.

And so I would cast my own things when I would direct pieces – small pieces for the theatre department and stuff. And I really enjoyed that process of it; auditioning people and also just kind of giving adjustments with the actors and working with the actors.

I had no idea, though, that casting director was really even a job at that juncture in my life.  Then I graduated from college, and I worked in advertising for a year. And it wasn’t a really good fit.  I didn’t love it. 

So, I went into my mother’s office. She was a counselor at a college in Louisville, KY (Bellarmine University), and she had an internship book. And I looked through and discovered that there are casting internships. And they described what a casting director does: Goes to theatre, watches everything, auditions people, has generals. [NOTE: “generals” refers to general auditions. That’s a type of audition done by a theatre, studio, TV show, casting director, etc., when trying to get a feel for the available talent pool. “General” meaning they aren’t casting for a particular role, yet.] And I was like, “Oh my God, that sounds like so much fun.”

I applied to six internships for theatre around the country, got into three of them, one of them was in New York at Circle Rep Theatre. I chose Circle Rep, and moved there, and it was a year-long internship. 

It was really funny, actually, because the artistic director of the theater (Austin Pendleton) – we first got there and everyone was going around (the interns) saying what they were going to be an intern in and what they really did.

Almost everyone was either an actor or a writer, and were interning other departments; and I actually was the casting intern and said I wanted to be casting director.

Susan Dansby:  That is wonderful.

Mary Clay Boland:  Yeah, and Austin Pendleton said, “What? No one wants to be a casting director.  You just fall into that.” And I was like, “Well no, that’s what I want to do.”  So, I sort of had my mind set on that, and that was almost 15½  years ago. And I stayed in casting ever since.

Susan Dansby:  I really want to hear what that first year was like.

Mary Clay Boland:  I got very spoiled because I didn’t realize that that wasn’t the norm. But because Circle Repertory Theatre had such an amazing reputation; and their members – their acting and writing teams – were unbelievable.

So, I not only cast weekly readings for the literary department where I got to use the members – which were people like Ethan Hawke, Judd Hirsch, Julianne Moore. You’d just call people and be like, “Hey, are you available to do this reading?”  Liev Schreiber.  You know, we did a reading for Side Man, the Warren Leight play that went on to Broadway, and many plays that have now become huge.

Susan Dansby:  That really sounds like heaven.

Mary Clay Boland:  It was.  It was such an amazing experience.  I got to see amazing actors, firsthand, do these readings, and just make these characters come to life and see the playwrights work with them. So I think it really gave me some tools and it helped me build my taste and also see what skills and talents it takes to bring a character to life and to make a good actor. So, it was a great experience. It was the best thing that could have happened.

About Susan Dansby

Susan Dansby has received four Emmy® Awards and two Writers Guild Awards for her work on the soap opera, AS THE WORLD TURNS. She is the author of HOW DID YOU GET THAT JOB? MY DREAM JOBS AND HOW THEY CAME TRUE.
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