Why You’ve Been All Wrong About Those Co-Star Auditions – And What To Do Now!

I had rehearsed at least seven different ways to say the one line I was auditioning for on CSI as the foreperson of the jury. But the casting director had me do it over and over, and each time, said “Do less.”

I realized later that this was one of those instances where my purpose was simply exposition. I was to communicate the information in as unobtrusive a way as possible. But this was perhaps the one approach I had not considered.

If Jackie Geary and Jamison Haase had been doing their Co-Star class at LA On Camera Training Center, I might have known that going in. Below, Geary answers five questions about the upcoming class.


Jackie Geary is a familiar face on television, having recently appeared on the likes of HOW TO GET AWAY WITH MURDER, WEEDS, SUBURGATORY, RIZZOLI & ISLES, BONES, CASTLE, UNITED STATES OF TARA, HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER, and in the memorable Fanilow episode of WILL & GRACE. She is also known for her recurring role as quirky agent Susan Grady on NCIS. Recent features include a supporting role in Roland Emmerich’s WHITE HOUSE DOWN. She credits her Barnard education, combined with her love of comedy, for the technique she teaches at L.A. On-Camera. Marrying head instructor Jamison Haase didn’t hurt either.

1. Why do you think co-star parts are notoriously hard to book?

     Actors going in for co-stars are usually at the beginning of their careers, and can put a lot of pressure on themselves to book the job – never a good place to be as an actor. But the biggest issue is that actors often get confused as to which co-stars to do something with performance-wise, and which to just let be, and end up paralyzed by their options. As a result, they can turn in a vague read that doesn’t really land.  That was part of our goal in creating the co-star class — to try to answer that question, and demystify the co-star.

2. Is it really true that casting directors like to see 5 or 6 co-stars before they’ll consider you for a guest star, or a larger part?

     Very often. Depends on the actor, and depends on the casting director. If you are a 19-year-old model transitioning into acting, you might get to skip co-stars. If you aren’t, then yeah, you’ll probably need to book a few to move up to guest stars. There are some great casting directors out there who are willing to take a chance on talented people and bring them in for something larger, but they’re rare, and understandably so — casting directors want to know you have a certain amount of experience before risking their own reputations by vouching for you.

3. You’ve booked quite a lot of co-stars yourself, and so has your teaching partner, Jamison Haase, has that helped you to develop a strategy for booking them?

     Absolutely 🙂 Between the two of us, we’ve booked over 30, and auditioned for countless more. And that’s aside from all the actors we’ve coached on their co-star auditions. So we’ve got the process pretty fine-tuned at this point. My concentration is comedy, and Jamison’s is drama — so you spend half of the co-star class with him, and half with me. Because of the differences in style, comedic and dramatic co-stars can be very different animals; we outline exactly why and how, and the technique that goes into breaking down and booking each.

4. What can actors who take your co-star class hope to come away with?

The point of the class is to come away with greater confidence in auditioning for co-stars, and a better understanding of what it takes to make an impression in the room when you might only get a line or two. Ultimately, no one wants to do co-stars forever, but by showing the CDs that you understand the story and can make it better, the next time you may get called in for something bigger.

5. If we are cast very close to who we actually are in these co-star parts, what difference do our choices really make?

      Sometimes we’re cast close to who we are, and sometimes it can be very far from us. The catch is knowing when to do which and knowing how to make choices that serve the story, without making it all about you. Who we are has something to do with it, of course, although if my past co-stars are any indication, I am one bitchy stoner.  



* The class is four weeks long, and it shifts between drama and comedy. Actors will work on and perform on more than 15 different sides over the course of the class and will be sent their takes after every class. Class is held at our studios at 2000 W. Magnolia Blvd., Suite 200 in Burbank, it costs $250, and the the next sessions begin Wednesday, Oct 21st (11:30-3pm) or Thursday, Nov 12th (7-10:30pm). Check out the website at laoncamera.com for more details.


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