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One of the best things I could have done for my acting career was to take an internship at a well-known film and television casting office. If there was one word to describe my internship, it would be “invaluable." This experience has taught me things I likely would not have learned anywhere else.

Every day I went to work filled with optimism, gratitude and an eagerness to help wherever I was needed. The casting director was pleasant and so were his assistants. The office ran harmoniously and on schedule. I facilitated the operation of a "fine-tuned machine,” as my boss would like to put it, and felt like part of a team. My duties ranged from clerical work to reading scripts and pulling sides. But what excited me most was the opportunity to be a reader during the pre-read sessions. I was also granted full access to the videos of the actors that were the finalists from each audition.

When the office was slow I studied every video I could to learn and absorb anything that might help me to book my own roles. On many occasions, I was allowed to come into the room after the auditions were over, and listen to the critiques on the top performers. It was like I was a fly on the wall and I loved every minute of it.

I was surprised, and quite frankly shocked, when I witnessed some of the producer’s final picks. I always knew there were many factors beyond the actor’s control when it came to booking a job, but seeing first-hand how acting talent was disregarded really brought this concept home. On one occasion the actors chosen for co-star roles were picked because they were very similar in height. Another actress was passed over because she had a look that was too similar to the lead actress. So I have learned not to beat yourself up if you don’t book a role. There’s a chance you didn't book it because of casting considerations completely out of your control.

However, you shouldn't get discouraged and assume that talent isn't a consideration when you don't book a job. After studying so many videos, I would say that 9 out of 10 times the producers and directors pick the best actor for the role. The actors who came in well prepared, off book, listened, worked off the reader, embodied the character, situation, and environment would ultimately book the job without question. It's a matter of preparation and then letting go once you're in the audition room, allowing yourself to be in the moment.

So, the one piece of advice I would like to share with every actor is: DO YOUR HOMEWORK on EVERY show you audition for. In doing so, you will learn to understand the tone of the show as well as know the correct pronunciation of the character’s names. Going into an audition room and publicly announcing you're not a fan of the show by asking how the leads’ name is pronounced never looks good. Nowhere is this truer than in front of the producers and director who expect you to be prepared when you enter the room.

Looking back, my internship was the most eye-opening, jaw-dropping, insightful and unforgettable experiences that I've ever had, and I'm so glad to have done it. In fact, I loved it so much that I considered a second internship with another casting office the following semester. When I told my boss about potentially interning again, he changed my path, building the little bit of confidence I was unaware I needed. He said, "Sylvia, you don't need to intern ANYWHERE, anymore. You're ready, start going out and auditioning." And with those words, as well as a constant reaffirmation that "talent always rises to the top," I was recharged and felt ready to take Hollywood by storm. I know I'm not going book every audition I go on, but I do know that if I'm well prepared when the opportunity presents itself, I'm going to do my absolute best to seize it and book the job.


  —Sylvia Ward, born Sylwia Wardaszka, is a model and actress who came to America from Szczuczyn, Poland when she was 3 years old. She graduated from the two year acting program at the William Esper Acting Conservatory and quickly became a member of SAG-AFTRA and Actor's Equity Association. Constantly working on her craft, she recently attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts and is currently taking scene study classes with Rich Cole and Larry Moss.     

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