First, before I get to the good stuff, let me tell you a bit about my experience with Toni. When I started pursuing acting, my husband referred me to a wonderful woman who was once his Sunday school teacher who happens to be a casting director. I connected with her via social media and she was incredibly kind. I ordered her book Slate Please on Amazon and just kept plugging away. Well, she started following me on social media and reading my blog and offered me a spot in her mentee program through Integrity Casting. I only did the program for a year but she became a friend and remains very influential in my life. She believed in me – told me I was a comedian. I would’ve never attempted stand up had it not been for my experience with her and the way she built me up. It is for those very reasons I asked her a few questions for this blog. I hope whether you’re already in the industry, pursuing the entertainment industry or not at all that you will take away something from Toni’s positive outlook on life, work and building relationships.
Now, onto the good stuff!
Q: How long have you been in the business?
A: 37 years in May.
Q: How does someone get started and what do they need?
A: They need passion, a tough skin and the ability to make relationships. After having those qualities- then they need to find the “right” person to aid them getting the proper training and tools.
Q: What is the one thing you wish people knew before they show up for an audition?
A: That its all about making relations; that it has nothing really to do with how beautiful or how talented you are- those qualities fall second. The first qualities of letting someone see you for you- to get them to find something about you personally that they like and that they admire. It could be as small as the kind word you had said to them that day about the weather.
Q: How can someone stand out at a cattle call?
A: By being patient first and foremost! Mostly to stand out in a room, make eye contact, be sincere and excited.
Q: What is the worst audition you’ve ever experienced/witnessed?
A: Many actually! Embarrassed to say, but I actually did a casting session in San Francisco for the show “ELIMADATE” LOL! That was definitely one of my NOT so favorite projects to cast- they asked me to ask each possible contestant to show me their abs.It’s awkward being a grandmother asking to see young folks mid section!
Q: How can someone overcome a bad audition?
A: By taking away the GOOD in that hour. Did you meet a new friend to have coffee with? Did you smile and see someone smile back? Did you have a great hair day? Learn something new?
Q: What advice do you have for actors who face rejection?
A: To buck up! (LOL) We all encounter rejection throughout our life, because we are all just not perfect for everything or everyone. So I say this: learn from it- embrace it and let it make you a better person. It could be GOD humbling us for one reason or another.
Q: What trends are you seeing in the industry?
A: More desire for mixed ethnicity. Women getting better leading roles.
Q: What do you see as your biggest challenge?
A: People who are kind to you in person, yet not so kind behind your back. Even though it’s part of business, I’ve never gotten used to that.
Q: What is the best movie you’ve seen this year?
A: Goodness, I liked The Danish Girl. I not only thought the acting was brilliant, but it meant something to me personally, as a family member of mine has gone thru those difficult situations. I always choose love over judgement.
Q: Who is your all time favorite actor – living or deceased?
A: I used to always say Will Smith because of his kind hearted spirit, but Jerry Mathers has become one of my favorites, too. He builds his relationships with people in the industry. He is there for you even when you might not be able to use him for a project. Most actors are all about the moment and what you can do for them in it. Jerry is more about the big picture of touching lives. I LIKE THAT.
Q: How can we encourage each other in this industry?
A: Build each other up. Never be in competition with others. Be in competition for yourself. Live to give in your relationships. Make them lifers!
Q: Any other thoughts or advice today?
A: I say appreciate every opportunity and every person you meet in that situation. Declare each day a day of “what can I do for that person” next thing you know, miracles and dreams happen.