How an acting school put an ATC alum on the successful path to casting. By Riley O'Day.
I began my journey in this industry at the Actors Training Center (ATC) in Wilmette, Illinois nearly twelve years ago. Fast forward to today - the support & opportunities provided to me by ATC in large part allowed me to land my first job as a Casting Assistant in Los Angeles, California.
When I trace back the steps I took to get here, ATC is the place I consider the origin of this accomplishment. It was 2011 when I received an email from ATC that read: “Weekend Workshop with LA Casting Director, Deborah Dion.”
I signed up immediately, desperate to get my hands on any experience that would help me develop the skills to become a successful actress. By the end of the first day of the workshop - I had become mesmerized, instead, by the idea of a career in casting.
I remember sitting there, watching the playback of our scenes on the TV & I found myself trying to guess the adjustments Deb would give each student between takes of the auditions. I watched the way she analyzed our work & followed up with adjustments in the safe & judgment-free way that is consistent with all the classes at ATC. Auditions are scary, and Deb made everyone in that room feel comfortable & supported as we practiced.
Immediately after the workshop ended, I walked up to Carole Dibo, Founder of ATC, & told her that I changed my mind about wanting to be an actress. Not for a split second did Carole doubt my ability to achieve this new goal.
From there, ATC hired me as an intern so I could get some office experience & learn how things work from another angle of the industry. They even arranged for me to sit in on a casting session at PR Casting in Chicago so I could see what the job was like firsthand.
I think Carole could tell I had never been surer of anything in my life: I wanted to work in casting & she was going to be there by my side supporting me every step in my journey.
After graduating from the University of Iowa with a BFA in Communication Studies & a Minor in Theatre Arts, ATC helped me in acquiring a part-time internship with PR Casting. I helped with the behind-the-scenes aspects of countless commercial castings & some television series.
A few months into my internship I got the opportunity to be a Casting Assistant for a feature film they were casting. This experience at PR Casting eventually lead to a position in the Casting Society of America’s Training & Education Program. This involved me making the big move to L.A. & continue pursuing this career – leading me to where I am now: as a Casting Assistant with Rachel Tenner Casting.
It is impossible to put into words how much ATC means to me & how thankful I am that they exist.
This incredible, nonprofit organization played a central role in helping me achieve my dream job by giving me the tools, confidence, & network I needed to establish myself in the industry.
A huge thank you from the bottom of my heart to Carole Dibo & the
Actors Training Center for setting my path in motion, giving me the tools & network I needed to succeed, & cheering me on the whole way. I am so incredibly grateful to them.