We were lucky enough to sit down with casting director, tv producer, victim rights' advocate, and media personality Lenora Claire (phew!) for an interview on what it takes to make it in the television industry, in reality TV - and beyond. Named one of LA Weekly's "People of the Year," Lenora has been around the block and is a fantastic source of information for aspiring, entrepreneurial actors! Read on to discover her tips and tricks for making it in Hollywood and Ya'llywood.
Studio 27: Hi Lenora! Thank you for agreeing to do this interview with Studio 27 - tell us about yourself.
Lenora Claire: Hello Anna and everyone at Studio 27! I always get overwhelmed with this question, but I will try to narrow it down. I’m a former journalist and art curator turned reality tv casting director, producer, media personality, event promoter, and victims rights advocate. I just got engaged, and it’s so new I keep calling him my “Beyonce” because I start to say boyfriend and remember he got upgraded to fiance. I’m also very obsessed with my dog.
S27: Adorable. How do you become a casting director?
LC: I had gotten a lot of press and was named one of the “People of the Year” by the LA Weekly after opening one of my art galleries in 2011. My mentor, Doron Ofir, who is a legend in the reality TV world for having cast shows like Jersey Shore, saw me in all the papers and sent me a tweet that said “I want to make you famous." I thought he was a creep hitting on me until I scrolled through his Twitter and saw that he was a casting director and gay (phew!) and replied. He then asked me to audition for a pilot for MTV and the rest is history. After meeting, he had discovered I had led a pretty interesting life and since print media was dying and I wasn’t finding much writing work, and even though the gallery I had opened was getting me press, the art world wasn’t exactly stable either. He thought my experience as a journalist would make me an excellent casting director, and now almost a decade later, I can say he was right!
S27: That's quite a story! Moving onto the talent portion: what are three things you wish actors would know/understand before walking into a casting room?
LC: Well, I don’t work in scripted, so I would call them more “talent” than actors, but I wish I could tell everyone that sometimes the strangest, most random things influence if someone is cast or not, and that sometimes it’s just as much about luck as it is talent and not to give up if they aren’t booking things right away. I would tell them to be kind to their casting director and make an impression, because I can’t tell you how many times I auditioned people who weren’t right for the current project and remembered them for something else later. I would also stress that if we send out a casting for something specific, please respect whatever it is we asked for and not submit yourself if you’re the opposite of what has clearly been requested. You’re just wasting both of our time[s].
S27: I love that. What about celebs? Do they still have to audition?
LC: I’ve absolutely auditioned celebrities for things. It depends on the project, and I suppose how big they are, though.
S27: What is the biggest mistake you’ve seen actors make in the audition room?
LC: In reality TV, the biggest mistake I have seen is someone saying what they think you want to hear about themselves that isn’t true, because they think it will get them booked. Remember, you have to live with whatever you do or say on reality tv. Please don’t sell yourself as anything other than what you are. Most casting directors can see through it anyway.
S27: Thoughts on Atlanta being the “Hollywood of the South”?
LC: Absolutely! I just cast a reality show for Lifetime out of Atlanta and two other shows in the office were being cast there and one currently is filmed there. I love the diversity and big personalities!
S27: What are the best things an actor can do to prepare for an audition or a big role?
LC: With reality, the best thing one can do is to be energetic and speak in sound bites. Nobody wants to hear your long winded story that goes nowhere. Think of some funny anecdotes or interesting bullet points about your life and deliver them with some genuine enthusiasm.
S27: What advice would you give to an Atlanta actor looking to move to LA or New York?
LC: Rent is REALLY expensive, so come here with at least three months of savings. And if you want sweet tea in LA, go to Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles. Also, don’t say “ma’am" to everyone here - say “miss” or else they will think you’re calling them old. Good luck!