How Casting Directors Promote, Protect and Defend Actors During the Audition Process

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

Casting director, Mary Clay Boland (formerly of As the World Turns) discusses the audition process in soaps. She explains why it might be a good idea to go over your audition material with the casting director before you’re seen by producers.

Marnie Schulenberg (Alison) ATWT©John Paschal/

Marnie Schulenberg (Alison) ATWT

Susan Dansby:  And when actors get sides, (which for those people who are not in the industry is basically a scene that the actor is going to read), do they generally read with the casting director or with an assistant?

Mary Clay Boland:  Now with me, with daytime, I was in charge of all the principals and recurrings [actors who aren’t under contract, but have a large amount of dialogue, and who may appear numerous times] and contracts [actors under contract to perform 1-3 times a week]. I had an associate in charge of all the Under 5s [characters with five or less lines of dialogue] and then our assistant, Kate [Martineau Adams], was in charge of all the background. 

So it depends on how the office is set up. But, usually, you do come in for the associate or the casting director to read, and then you go in for the producers. 

I have plenty of actors that you get to know, that you can trust to come straight in for the director or producer; but I usually find it’s in everyone’s best interest to just come in and read through with it the casting director.  Especially, if I haven’t seen you in a while. So, there are no surprises if you walk in the room and you haven’t gained a hundred pounds.

 Susan Dansby:  Or you suddenly have blonde hair.

Billy Magnussen (Casey) ATWT

Billy Magnussen (Casey) ATWT

Mary Clay Boland:  And, also, I have been meeting with the director and the producer, so I know what they want; so, I’m going to be able to adjust you. Whereas when you go in straight for producers, a lot of times the producers don’t want to make adjustments.  They just want the actor to have figured it out.  A lot of people find that they don’t like to pre-read, but I think sometimes it is for the best.

Susan Dansby:  I think you are right.  The more time – certainly the more feedback – you get from somebody who is in that inner circle, the more prepared you are going to be when you get on camera.

Mary Clay Boland:  And for something like As the World Turns, it was helpful because I had been there eight years.  Chris had been the EP for eight years – that’s Chris Goutman who’s the executive producer.  So, we had such a good relationship. I knew him so well [and] he does not give adjustments.  He usually just wants you come in, do the scene and leave. 

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[Actors would say] , “Yeah, I’ll come in and read with Mary Clay first,” if I asked them to. Just because I could already figure out what Chris would be thinking.  When I’d see someone, I’d be like, “Oh I know that’s going to bother him, we should work on this part of the scene.”  When you get in a relationship like that, I think it is definitely important.

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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