young performers

What a Casting Director Should Look For in Young Performers

Posted on Posted in Industry Advice

Watching a young actor’s brilliant performance in movies usually inspires many children and teens to pursue an acting career. However, casting directors should do more than be impressed by passion and young ambition. Irresistibly cute or not, young actors also have to be qualified for the roles they audition for. Remember, actors are the core piece of any film, so it’s imperative that casting directors choose the right ones. Different actors bring their own unique personality and essence to a single role, so pick the one who suits the character best. Plain skill should not be the only/main quality that casting directors note down during auditions. The young actor auditioning for the role may have the acting chops but not the attitude that directors want or they may have the attitude you want but not the right aura.


What should casting directors look for in young actors? Here’s a list of basic qualifications for young and inexperienced actors.

Things Casting Directors Should Look For in Young Performers


An audition is basically an interview or an actual production minus a crowd. The number one key to success in securing a part is how physically and mentally prepared one is for it. And the better an actor’s preparations are, the more confident they will be. Actors have been told time and time again that they are their own product. If they are not confident with their own product, how are they supposed to sell themselves to you? What casting director would hire someone who didn’t feel they could rely on themselves? An actor who chooses to be ignorant of your audition’s requirements wastes everyone’s time and can possibly choose to be ignorant of further production instructions. An actor who speaks and moves with inhibitions is also in no way enjoyable to watch. Nothing undermines confidence more than lack of preparation.



The challenge casting directors always face is finding the best actor out of a group of actors who all look basically the same. More than acting skills, a casting director has to look out for a creative who’s easy to work with. First and foremost, an actor has to be likeable as a person. When they enter the audition room, the actor has to treat the people present inside with respect: the producer, the director, a camera operator, you, and if it’s a commercial audition, a representative from the advertiser. Like applicants for a job, actors have to be polite and nice. Observe their attitude and pick up on red flags. The behavior they present may greatly affect the production during principal photography.

Ability to take direction

Actors are part of a bigger picture—a picture the director understands best. So occasionally they may need a few adjustments in their portrayal of a character to better suit a scene. The problem with many parents is that they let their child/teen actor strictly memorize a single approach in performing their lines. Once the director tells the young actor to perform a variation, they either resist or become lost mid performance. Remember, every actor needs to possess on-the-spot flexibility as this is always required on set. Can the actor also take constructive feedback and incorporate it into their performance? Or does suggestion for change seem to have no effect or, worse, bring about an argument? Watch this tested during the audition when the director gives feedback and explains to them what they want, especially if their first portrayal wasn’t what the director envisions. The right actor is one who is willing to cooperate and take direction or feedback right away. When the ego of an actor gets in the way, they will not be able to get into the character the way the director wants them to, which ultimately takes away the essence of the movie and presents a problem during principal photography. Actors won’t get it right all the time, but whether they’re willing to incorporate direction is what’s important.


Training and education

If an auditionee has little to no acting experience at all, acting education is the first and easiest step to getting something for an acting résumé. In an industry where competition is always tight, actors have to take the necessary steps to give themselves an edge over other aspiring actors vying for the same role. Enrolling in acting classes is the best way to do just that as it allows them to master acting as an art form and offers them valuable industry knowledge that they would otherwise not know about. Classes also give them the opportunity to perform and practice those skills. There are different types of acting classes to choose from. Check this article out for information.


A great cast isn’t made up of bland, lifeless personalities. Sometimes, it does not matter to many casting directors if an actor is new or experienced in the business. For shows that are looking for young talent, casting directors do not necessarily look for big achievements from child or teen actors simply because most of them still haven’t built a career for themselves yet. What you should be looking for instead is a talent with great personality. Is there anything that makes them memorable? It could be their humor or charisma. 


“When I was casting the pilot of Hannah Montana, over 1,200 girls from all over the country auditioned for the title role,” Disney casting director Lisa London said. “The ones that stood out the most were the girls who were not only talented, but they also showed us their charisma! This is exactly what Miley Cyrus did.”


Don’t make the rookie mistake of casting an actor based on looks or a bit of experience. Casting is not just another part of preproduction that you should just check off the to-do list. The process is supposedly frustrating and tedious; however, it has the power to make or break a project. Take it seriously, and don’t rush it.

Good luck!

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