A Night with Tiandra Gayle - Tyler Perry Studios
Last month I attended an industry TalkBack with Tiandra Gayle a Casting Associate at Tyler Perry Studios; hosted by DFAS in Atlanta, Georgia. Let me tell you the house was packed with standing room only so I took the notes on my phone and here are the results.
How did you get started?
I was in New York. I was way from the business for a while and started taking acting classes to get back in it. Did some plays and shows. Me and 3 friends called ourselves quad borough and did shows together.
What about the casting process did you enjoy?
All of it. I liked the administrator part and Creator part. I felt I had a good eye for talent and picking material and enjoyed that part of putting on a show. I started doing indie films, my first feature was full circle. It was a budget of 25k with a great cast and went to film festivals. 2014 I moved back to Atlanta and met Gayle from Tassell talent management and started working with her. I moved to Atlanta to work for a casting company in a real office. I learned alot from her. I learned so much more about self taping and analyzing them before we let the clients send them out.
How did you get into the casting office for Tyler Perry?
I went to an industry event with Gayle and we met Rhayvnn Drummer and she mentioned she had an opening, I sent my resume and I've been there ever since.
Difference between assistant and associate?
Assistant is the gopher running around while the associate can do more work at their desk. I do all the sag stuff and the assistant does more of the self tape watching than I do. Rhayvnn does alot of the selecting on whos going to auditions. Once she makes the choices she lets us know and we notify you. She usually talks to the producers, directors, agents, managers with issues and such.
What helps complete their actors Access profile?
Good to have great professional headshot pictures, a reel, different looks/characters that you want to portray. Make a list of all the roles that you think your right for so that headshot can capture that essence.
How important is costume for audition?
For doctor a white coat is fine. But for other stuff like a cowboy that is tricky; Keep it minor. Only a few props are fine in audition such as water bottle, purse, phone. One girl had 3 bags and it was way too much. Don't have loud jelwery.
Readers for self tapes?
Be careful about who you pick. Sometimes they can really mess up your audition. My pet peeve is you being your own reader so try not to do that. Don't let them be too loud and make sure they aren't better than you.
How many breakdowns do you release per week and how many submissions?
We get thousands. Depending on the role she might call in 30-60 people for self tapes. In person is 20 to 30.
What's the atmosphere at the office?
We are fun. We work hard and long hours but our atmosphere is super fast. We just wrapped on Sistas for BET. 50 episodes shot for 2 shows in less than a month. 1-2 shots then next...you have to be ready to work in the pace or you'll be very intimidated. Be confident, make good choices, understand your character and role because their is no time for feedback on set sometimes.
What grabs your eye in headshots?
We always pick the headshot the matches the role so that's why different headshots are great. It makes it easier for us to see you in the role.
Can you see an a list of auditions that actor has had?
It will say the project and role and we will be able to watch the audition. Only for our office though.
Do you watch reels?
Definitely and rarely we might cast off of reel only.
What’s the casting process?
We get and read script. We do character breakdowns and write them. We get the producer approval. We release breakdowns. We go through each role and Rhayvnn has number system "send out all my number 1s a notice" we decide which roles we want to see in person and self tape. Once Rhayvnn selects we send up to our top 10 choices to producers. We choose who is the most grounded who performed the best. For 1 lines it might be more about the look but still your performance is still important because that can turn into 2 liners but keep it simple and be real.
Let's talk about this billboard!
I understood what she was trying to do but cost a lot of money. Keep your money. If your a struggling actor don't spend your money on a billboard use that for training and honing your skills. Self tape set up or studio membership, headshots, readers, training etc.
Do you see talent moving here toward Atlanta?
Yes so you must be building your skills. Do something for your craft everyday. Eat right, gym, meditate, classes.
You can't take any of this personal. There are so many factors into who gets booked more than just your talent.
Where are you seeing a lack in submission?
I think we have a nice little mix. I think it depends on what the project calls for.
How is the relationship with your L.A casting?
Kim focuses more on the series regulars and guest star bigger roles. Proud to say our series regular and guest stars for Sistas came from Atlanta.
Self tape pointers you can give?
Tape from mid chest up. Plane background, be grounded, good reader, prepare as much as you can and have a moment before, if it's a phone convo have a phone don't pantomime. Don't be stiff especially if their is a little action.
Do you prefer clips compared to reel?
I like to have both.
What if you go for a role and you don't get it but you see background should you do it?
You don't want to do background if your trying to get principal roles. It's great in the beginning to learn how the set works, after those few times move on and don't do it.
How do I keep my momentum that I have now?
Go to a class every week, find a technique that can help you learn the craft and that will inspire you.
What's the advice for those actors who left the business to come back?
Jump back in. If it's your passion you have to have that desire to really want to keep going because this industry can get discouraging. It takes stamina to withstand all the No's. Even the most established actors have coaches.
How can that one liner get turned into something bigger?
I can't answer that. You just never know. It's the luck of the draw and it's the director that might decide he wants more.
What filters do you put on actors access?
We don't really use filters. Only in special cases for very specific things
Do you watch on rolling basis?
If it's something we need tomorrow then yes. But sometimes if we have time we watch them after deadline. They revise scripts all the time so sometimes they also add roles too.
Is it ok to submit for 2 different roles?
No that's ok.
Advice if your someone who wants to do casting?
I started doing casting stuff for friends for free. Got to have something on your resume.
Ever regretting casting a talent?
I haven't run into that issue because once they get cast they are in production’s hands.
How important is it too stick to the script in self tapes?
Don't add a bunch of your own but it's cool sometimes when you add a little button on there or something creative but don't go overboard.
Why is so much casting outside of Atlanta?
We try our best to find the best talent here. I'm so proud we got alot of series regulars here from this market this year. Sometimes it's a heavy role or specific that maybe someone in this market isn't interested in it.
What makes you decide to bring someone in person?
Rhayvnn makes alot of those choices. It depends on how many we want to see, it could be just someone she's never seen while other people where she knows their work then she might just see their self tape.
One thing you want the artist to grasp?
Take careof yourself. Be conscious on mental health, how your living and treat yourself well so your open and available for every character and role.
Thank You Tiandra Gayle & Tyler Perry for bringing jobs to this market!