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Commercial Acting Opportunities for Chicago Comedians? Yes.


A chat with Matthew Miller, casting director with TP&R Casting.

What does TPR Casting do, what kinds of clients does it serve, and what does your job involve?

TP&R is one of the biggest casting houses in Chicago; we cast everything from print ads to major feature films. A casting director’s job is essentially three-fold: 1) After talking with the director of the film or commercial project we’re working on about the roles and how he or she might be thinking about those roles, we decide--based on our knowledge of the Chicago talent pool--which actors we want to have in to audition. 2) In the first round of auditions, the casting director directs the actors in the absence of the director. 3) After the director and the producers/ad agency have met the actors at callbacks and have made their choices, the casting director hires the actors and negotiates the terms of the contract with the actor’s agent if necessary.

What sort of commercial acting opportunities exist in Chicago for local comedy talent?

Quite a lot, actually. One of the primary reasons ad agencies cast in Chicago is that they want character actors who have improv training.

Would someone who is a stand up comic or improviser but never acted, per se, be a viable candidate for some of this work?

Sure. However, a well trained actor will always have an edge. If you have never taken an on-camera class or a basic scene study course, they are highly recommended form where I sit.

Do people need agents, headshots, reels, and so on, to be considered for opportunities here?

No, not as much as in LA or NYC. Certainly being represented with a talent agency will help a lot as will good headshots, but increasingly there are many opportunities posted on Craigslist or Chicago Improv boards that are very good gigs that don’t require an agent or a fancy reel.

How can people keep aware of these opportunities, and what do they need to do to prepare themselves?

Keep an eye on those public callboards. Subscribe to PerformInk. Go to as many general auditions for the bigger theatre companies as you can. Gets your name out there.

Are their any classes or training you would recommend for people interested in getting on-camera work? I hear you teach classes yourself.

I generally teach at The Acting Studio Chicago; they have a nice range of courses. But there are many good schools in town like Act One and The Green Room.

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