Over the last decade, Netflix has quickly become a household name and is home to many of our favourite shows, with over 200 Million subscribers and 39% of the market share in the US. It’s no surprise then that more and more actors are wanting to know how to audition for Netflix.
Auditions for Netflix aren’t actually hosted by Netflix themselves. Since they act as Executive Producers for their shows, they provide money to a production company which then hires a casting director to find the perfect cast.
This guide will cover everything from the absolute basics to some more advanced techniques that I use in my own career to get more auditions.
Table of Contents
How Netflix Produce their Shows
Before we go into how to audition for Netflix, we must first understand how they produce their shows. Netflix first sources ideas by using four main strategies:
- Writers pitch scripts to Netflix’s Creative Executives who then purchase the scripts they want to create.
- Creators pitch ideas to Netflix’s Creative team which can then be turned into full projects down the road.
- Netflix purchases already finished projects from film festivals, etc.
- Netflix develops ideas internally which may then get produced.
Once a project has been greenlit by Netflix, they don’t actually create the shows themselves. They will provide funding to a third-party production company which then does the work.
For example; Wednesday was created by MGM Television, Stranger Things was created by 21 Laps Entertainment and Sex Education was created by Eleven Productions.
Netflix then acts as an Executive Producer, although it’s been said that they tend to be relatively hands-off, trusting the vision of the director. The production company will then hire a Casting Director who reads the script, puts together cast lists and breakdowns, and starts hosting auditions in search of the perfect actors for the job.
So with that being said, how do you get an audition for your favourite Netflix show?
How Most Actors Audition For Netflix
The most common way actors get auditions for Netflix shows is by having an agent. Netflix only wants to hire the best actors for the role. By sending their casting calls to agencies, they’re narrowing their search to a range of actors that have proven their ability and already have a certain level of experience.
The casting director will send agents a list of breakdowns for each character in the script. Agents will then submit the actors they represent that fit the breakdown for the role and the casting director will choose who they’d like to audition.
This way the casting director doesn’t have to sit through thousands of auditions from actors that don’t yet have an understanding of the industry, how to self-tape or how to take feedback during an in-person audition. If you don’t yet have an agent, I’d suggest reading my full guide on how to get a talent agent as it goes in-depth into every part of the process and I give some great tips throughout.
If you have an agent, although you’ve not yet had an audition for a Netflix show, it may be a good idea to have a discussion with your agent or manager about your goals in order to put together a career strategy that reflects your goals. You and your agent/manager are a team, you want to be working towards the same goals. The best way to do that is through communication.
How to Audition for Netflix without an Agent
“But what about actors that don’t have agents? How can they find auditions.” You’re in luck! There is actually a really effective way to audition for Netflix shows without needing to see any casting calls. In fact, even though I have an agent, this is by far my favourite way to get acting auditions.
Having an agent is great, but it can sometimes leave you feeling out of control. This method allows you to take control of your own career. But for this method, you’ll have to do a bit of work, so be prepared! Here are a few things you’ll need before you start:
1. Professional Headshots
To be taken seriously as an actor, professional headshots are absolutely essential. Yes, your acting ability is important, but there are thousands of actors competing for the same roles and in order to stand out you’ll need a good headshot.
Since your headshot is the first thing that the casting director will look at when searching for actors; they should not only stand out amongst other headshots, but they should also represent you. To casting directors, having headshots that don’t represent you is like booking a holiday only to realise that it’s nothing like the brochure.
One of the reasons a casting director would invite you to audition is because they think you have the right look for the role. So if, in reality, you’re perfect role is something else entirely, you may be doing yourself a disservice.
2. Acting Resume / CV
Once a casting director has looked at your headshot and thinks you may be a good fit, they will then look at your resume. A casting director looks at an actor’s resume to see if they’ve had much performing experience, if they’ve had training, if they have an agent if they’ve worked with anyone they’d know and most importantly to see if the actor is taking their career seriously.
You don’t have to have worked with anyone of prestige, a relatively new resume is fine, but you have to start somewhere. If you don’t have much experience, tailor your resume around the training that you’ve had. And if you don’t have any training, get some. There’s no excuse for a completely blank resume.
3. Demo Reel
A demo reel is a short video, no longer than 2 minutes, that shows off an actor’s ability as well as how they look on screen. A demo reel is an amazing tool for an actor. For a casting director to take a risk and ask you to audition they first need to know that you can not only act but that you’ll suit the role. This is the power of a demo reel.
If you don’t have any onscreen credits that you could use in a demo reel, or you feel that the clips you have of your previous on-screen performances aren’t good enough, a self-taped monologue or scene works just fine and also has the added benefit of showing the casting director that you know how to give a good self-tape audition. Just ensure that your self-tape is actually good.
Decide Which Shows You’d Like to be in
First, you’ll need to decide which shows you’d like to target. Netflix has hundreds of shows that are filmed all over the world in many different languages so you’ll need to narrow it down from “I want to audition for Netflix!” to “I want to audition for Stranger Things!” or whatever shows you choose.
A good way to start if you’re not sure is by thinking of the shows that you enjoy watching personally. But you could also find out what shows are being filmed in your area, as well as use your casting type to dictate the shows you target. If a show is being filmed near you and you fit the types of roles that are being cast for the show, that is a HUGE benefit and will increase your likelihood of getting an audition significantly.
Research The Shows
Once you’ve decided on which shows you’d like to audition for, you must now do your research. This research could include rewatching all 4 seasons, but more specifically, here are some things you should look into.
- Has the show been renewed for another season? It may seem self-explanatory, but there’s no point trying to get an audition for a show only to find out that it’s been cancelled.
- Where was the show filmed? If you live in Atlanta, but the show was shot in LA, it’s going to be a hell of a lot harder to get an audition. Whilst production companies do fly actors around the country, and the world to film, a casting director will be more open to asking someone local to audition, than someone on the other side of the world.
- Who is the Casting Director? The casting director is the person that is in charge of auditions and works with the directors and producers to decide who gets the role. So in order to get an audition, it’s absolutely essential to know who the casting director is.
Research The Casting Director
Some actors find it useful to think of themselves as a product and Casting Directors as the buyers. It would seem foolish for a company to not know their customers; similarly, it would be foolish for an actor to not know the relevant casting directors in their industry.
By researching casting directors you will find out so much useful information. For example, Sophie Holland, an extremely successful casting director in the UK has worked on hit Netflix shows You, Wednesday, The Witcher, Shadow & Bone and many more. Although simple, this information is incredibly valuable to know.
Here are some good ways of researching casting directors:
- IMDb is a goldmine for actors and a website you should visit every time you watch something new. It will allow you to find out what the casting director has done previously. They may have cast one of your favourite shows or movies, that’s definitely useful information, right?
- Their website: Most casting directors nowadays have their own websites and it’s your job to find it. Here you can find their contact information, their social media, information about them and any tips they provide on contacting them.
- Google: If all else fails, searching the name of the casting director on Google, and looking for interviews they’ve done, books they’ve published, or workshops they’re attending is extremely helpful. If they’ve released a book, read it. If they’re hosting a workshop, attend it. If they’ve given an interview, watch/read it.
Contact The Casting Director
Most casting directors will tell you that it’s their job to find the perfect actor for the role, as the better they do that, the more work they will get. Knowing as many good actors as possible will help them achieve that.
For this reason, in my experience, most casting directors are open to receiving submissions and cold emails from actors, long as they’re done correctly. Whilst I hate to say that there are any “rules” to follow as an actor because I think rules can be broken, it’s important that you put your best foot forward.
So here are 6 things to think about when contacting casting directors:
1. Keep it Short, Simple & Polite
The ONLY way of guaranteeing that a casting director reads your email is by keeping it short, simple and polite. Casting Directors receive hundreds of emails every single day, so by starting your email with, “ever since I was a child,” you’re pretty much guaranteeing that your email with be put in the trash.
2. Who Are You?
This is the first thing a casting director will be thinking when reading your email, so it’s important that you address this. Briefly introduce yourself, give a little bit of information about who you are, but most importantly, remember to keep it short and simple!
3. Why Are You Contacting Them?
Once you’ve introduced yourself, let them know why you’re contacting them. Is this a general email to introduce yourself, are you submitting audition material, or are you replying to a specific casting call? Briefly mention that you’d love the opportunity to get to audition for them.
4. Solve Their Problem
Casting directors receive emails from actors all the time. What makes you different? This doesn’t have to be anything amazing, you could literally just be the perfect fit for the role from your headshots. But if I’ve learnt anything, it’s that everyone has something to offer that will help them get an audition.
It doesn’t have to be anything too unique. Useful information could be anything from where you live/where you’re from, or any U.S.Ps (Unique Selling Points) such as languages you speak, instruments you play, and interesting physical uniquities that you have.
You want to be the solution to their casting problem. If they’re casting a police officer role, and you’ve worked as a police officer for 20 years, that’s a really interesting and useful piece of information, and I can almost guarantee that you’ll be the first person they think of when looking to cast a police officer.
5. Where Can They See Your Other Work?
Once you’ve introduced yourself, they’ll want to know what you look like, what experience you have and how you look on screen. This is where you provide your headshots, resume/cv and demo reel.
Best practice is to do this through a link to an online casting platform like Spotlight, Actors Access or Backstage. Whilst you can send attachments, some casting directors prefer not to download files from random emails.
As well as this, by providing a link to an online resume, the casting director will be able to revisit it at a future date and see an up-to-date version rather than an out-of-date PDF that you sent them six months ago.
6. Don’t be Annoying or Rude
Spamming casting director’s emails, being rude or acting entitled is a recipe for getting blacklisted, and you can ensure being blacklisted by one casting director will get you blacklisted by others too. The industry talks. Just be kind, be polite and most importantly, be yourself.
Examples of Emails to Casting Directors
I wasn’t sure whether I should include example emails as I don’t want people to copy exactly what I write and spam casting directors. But there will be people that want to see the previous points in action, so here is one example of an email that will probably be ignored and another that may just result in an audition.
If you were a casting director, who would you rather ask to audition for a role, the first one or the second? Let me know in the comments below!
Example of a Bad Email
Notice in the below email example that the actress looks fairly unprofessional and unprepared. It gives the impression that the casting director would be doing the actress a favour rather than her solving the casting director’s problem. You don’t want to be a hindrance as an actor, you want to be an asset, and that’s what makes this email bad.
“Dear Casting Director,
I’m Lily. I just watched Cobra Kai and thought it was good and would like to audition for the next season! I’ve just started acting classes so I don’t have any headshots or a demo reel just yet, but hopefully I’ll be getting some soon. I’ve attached a mirror selfie for now so you can see what I look like.
I’ve wanted to be an actor ever since I was three years old, sat watching matilda with my parents on the weekends. I just love how actors have the ability to affect the audience on such a deep level and make you feel like you’re part of the story, and I want to be able to do that too. So if you could send me any auditions that you think would suit me, that would be amazing.
Example of a Good Email
Notice that the actress in the below example is solving the casting director’s problem. If the casting director was looking for local actresses with karate and screen combat experience, this would be their perfect candidate. If this actress doesn’t get an audition for this project, the casting director will almost definitely store their information for future reference.
I hope you’re doing well! My name’s Lily, I’m an actress originally from Florida, but I’ve just moved to Atlanta. After watching (and loving) Cobra Kai, I noticed that it was filmed here so I just had to introduce myself.
I’m a black belt in karate, with over 10 years experience, and I’m also trained in screen combat too. I’d love to get the opportunity to audition for you if the opportunity arrose. I’ve included my headshots below, aswell as my resume and demo reel.
Headshots & Resume: [Link]
Demo Reel: [Link]
Sure, we’re not all black belts with 10 years of experience, but hopefully you get the gist. Focus on what you can offer them, rather than what they can offer you. You’ll get more opportunities by giving than trying to take.
If You Don’t Get a Reply
Unfortunately, the chances are that you probably won’t get a reply. As mentioned before, casting directors receive hundreds of emails and it’s not uncommon for a casting director working on a Netflix show to receive 10,000+ submissions, so they’re definitely very busy.
But you can be assured that casting directors will always read their emails, even if they don’t reply. If they like what you’ve submitted they will keep your information for future reference. You never know, you may receive an email 6 months from now.
It’s a good idea to get back in contact whenever you have something useful to share. If you’re in a show, let them know. Over time they will recognise your name and you will build a relationship. Just remember rule 6, don’t be annoying or rude, there’s no need to spam their emails every 2 weeks.
Other Ways to Get Onto Netflix
Whilst the ways suggested previously are the best ways to get onto Netflix, there are some other options for actors that would like to be even more proactive.
Another easy way to find auditions is through casting websites. Netflix doesn’t always use public casting websites to advertise roles as they usually have no trouble finding the right actor through the usual means, but it may be a good idea to be a member of a casting site just in case.
Joining websites like Actors Access and Backstage will give you opportunities to submit to casting calls for various acting jobs. From time to time, you may see casting calls for smaller Netflix productions on these sites as they’re looking for a wider pool of actors.
Be aware that I say this method is easy as it requires the least amount of effort, but that doesn’t mean it’s the best method. This option should be used as a supplementary option to the other methods I list here.
A great way to get onto Netflix sets is by becoming an extra. Actors may turn their nose up to extra work, but it can actually be a really good option for newer actors looking to get onset experience in the industry.
As well as this, it’s not uncommon for extras to be given credited, speaking roles if the director likes your look and they feel that the production would benefit from it. I know multiple actors that started doing extra work, and the director gave them credited roles, which helped them kickstart their careers, get an agent and get more on-screen work.
Even if you don’t get promoted to a speaking role, the experience that you get of being on a Netflix set is so amazing that I would have done it for free. While at drama school I worked as an extra on Sex Education and the whole experience was amazing, I made some great friends and industry connections, I learnt how a Netflix set works and realised just how long it takes to film the smallest scenes.
If you’re interested in taking up extra work, why not read my complete guide to extra work where I go over everything from how to get started, how much to expect to be paid, on set etiquette and much more!
How To Apply for a Netflix Reality Show
A slightly different way to get onto Netflix is by applying to take part in one of their many reality shows. Whether you want to be on The Circle, Queer Eye, Nailed It! or any of their other popular reality shows; there is a wide range to choose from. And the great news is that it’s actually really easy to apply!
Here’s how to apply for ANY Netflix reality show in 6 easy steps:
- Go to NetflixReality.com
- Click on “Submit your Video”
- Choose the shows you’d like to apply for (you can select them all if you like)
- Enter your contact information
- Send off your 1-minute video
- Wait to hear back
Tips For Your 1-Minute Video
For their reality shows Netflix is looking for real, but interesting people. Ensure your video shows off your personality, without being too fake. It will be a good idea to film the video like you would a video to a friend, rather than a usual self-tape.
- Watch the show to understand who they’ve hired previously
- Be Real
- Show your personality
- Don’t send off an over-the-top self-tape, keep it natural
Requirements for Applying to Netflix Reality Shows
There are just a few requirements to apply for a Netflix Reality show. In order to apply for Netflix Reality you must be:
- At least 18 years old
- A resident of the US, Canada, UK, or Ireland
That’s it! So if you fit those requirements and would like to get the chance to be on a Netflix Reality show, why not apply now?
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