Mary Clay Boland was the casting director for As the world turns During her successful career she has worked in casting for theater and film, as well as for television; and received two Emmy® Awards for Outstanding Achievement in the Casting of a Drama Series. Here she answers the question, How did you get that job?
Mary Clay Boland: When I was in college, I majored in theater and communications (focusing on critical analysis of television). And while doing theater, my main objective was directing.
So I would pick my own stuff when directing pieces, little pieces for the theater department and stuff. And I really enjoyed that process; auditioning people and also making adjustments with the actors and working with the actors.
However, I had no idea that casting director was really a job at that point in my life. Then I graduated from university and worked in advertising for a year. And it didn’t fit very well. I did not love it.
So, I went to my mother’s office. She was a counselor at a college in Louisville, KY (Bellarmine University) and had an internship book. And I looked and found out that there are casting practices. And they described what a casting director does: he goes to the theater, he watches everything, he audits people, he has generals. [NOTE: “generals” refers to general auditions. That’s a type of audition done by a theatre, studio, TV show, casting director, etc., when trying to get a feel for the available talent pool. “General” meaning they aren’t casting for a particular role, yet.] And I was like, “OMG, that sounds like a lot of fun.”
I applied for six theater internships across the country, entered three of them, one of them was in New York at Circle Rep Theater. I chose Circle Rep and moved there, and it was a one year internship.
It was a lot of fun actually, because the artistic director of the theater (Austin Pendleton), we got there first and they were all hanging around (the interns) saying what they were going to be interns at and what they were really doing.
Almost everyone was an actor or writer and was doing internships in other departments; and actually I was the casting intern and I said I wanted to be a casting director.
Susan Dansby: That is wonderful.
Mary Clay Boland: Yeah, and Austin Pendleton said, “What? Nobody wants to be a casting director. You just fall for it.” And I was like, “Well, no, that’s what I want to do.” So, I had my mind set on that, and that was almost 15 and a half years ago. And I stayed in the casting since then.
Susan Dansby: I really want to hear what that first year was like.
Mary Clay Boland: I spoiled myself a lot because I didn’t realize that this was not the norm. But because Circle Repertory Theater had such an amazing reputation; and its members, its acting and writing teams, they were amazing.
So I didn’t just broadcast weekly readings for the literary department where I was able to use the members, which were people like Ethan Hawke, Judd Hirsch, Julianne Moore. You would just call people and say, “Hey, are you available to do this reading?” Liev Schreiber. You know, we headed to Side man, the Warren Leight play that went to Broadway, and many plays that have now become huge.
Susan Dansby: That really sounds like heaven.
Mary Clay Boland: Was. It was an incredible experience. I got to see amazing actors, first hand, do these readings and bring these characters to life and watch the playwrights work with them. So I think it really gave me some tools and helped me develop my taste and also see what skills and talents it takes to bring a character to life and be a good actor. So, it was a great experience. It was the best thing that could have happened.