When Disney vice president of casting and talent relations Judy Taylor was recently asked about where she finds talent for Disney Channel and Disney XD shows she stated, “we try here at Disney Channel, for many reasons, to look everywhere and have open calls all over the place to reach kids who may not have the chance to audition if they were only taking place in L.A. or New York.” The last several years Disney has held open casting calls in the cities of Richmond, Kansas City, Phoenix, Austin, San Antonio, and Wilmington. Thousands of hopefuls attended these calls with dreams of becoming the next Disney Channel star.
No matter what the expectations are of a child, teen, or parent who attends one of these open casting calls, the harsh reality is that the odds of being discovered are extremely small. But when someone is discovered, it can be a life-changing event that catapults a young person into worldwide fame. This is exactly what happened one year when Disney Channel held open casting calls in Texas and Florida. An amazing 11-year-old little girl showed up and impressed Judy Taylor and other Disney casting directors greatly. This child ended up becoming the second most popular Disney Channel star history, earning countless awards including six Kids’ Choice Awards, fifteen Teen Choice Awards, two Young Artist Awards, a People’s Choice Award, and an ALMA Award. So talent is very much discovered at these open calls, and they are no publicity stunt or gimmick, as many skeptical people falsely claim.
It is a fact that the vast majority of acting roles for Disney Channel and Disney XD are cast in Los Angeles. Judy Taylor hires freelance casting directors to do the day-to-day casting for individual series and movies. These casting directors use talent agents to bring in actors to come in and read for the specific roles. Sometimes the casting directors will call in someone who is not signed with a talent agent, however these are usually for smaller roles called Under 5’s – meaning having less than 5 lines of dialog. Extras in the United States are not represented by agents and are hired directly through extras casting companies.
Another exciting trend in the entertainment industry is online submissions for acting roles. With the advent of digital casting, talent can now submit headshots and resumes through email, or online talent databases. There are only a few legitimate online databases, so knowledge about these websites is crucial. During the summer of 2013, the casting directors for a new hugely anticipated Disney Channel show sent out a casting notice for series regulars. They specified that kids and teens outside of Los Angeles from all areas could submit an audition video. So it is official that Disney is now on board the digital online open casting call wagon. So the opportunities are real, and they are out there. Whether it be an in-person open casting call, or an online talent search – kids and teens now have more opportunities than ever to chase their dreams of working as an actor on Disney Channel and Disney XD.