Jules Fitzsimmons has been a Casting Director in the Greater Toronto Area since 2004. She is best known for her work casting host searches and commercials on all the major Canadian and US Networks. Recently, she sat down with us at Breakdown Services in Toronto to discuss how she got started in casting, the importance of having a complete Actors Access profile and her all-important “Jules Rules.”
How did you get your start in the industry?
I volunteered on a feature film, helping out here and there in every single department, and just fell in love with casting! In the beginning, you have to volunteer, to get yourself out there and learn about the business you’re getting into. Volunteer to be a PA — what’s a day out of your life? It’s an investment in your career!
Actors Access Tip: Volunteering is a great way to broaden your life experiences! Be sure to add all relevant volunteer work to your Actors Access resume by visiting the “Edit Resume” section.
You’ve been a huge supporter of Actors Access. How important is it to you — and your clients — for actors to have a complete profile?
Let me put it this way: if I have to decide between two different actors that look very similar or are head-to-head for whatever reason, I’m always going to go with the one who has an up-to-date resume or has a demo reel or has added a SlateShot℠ to their profile. To me, an incomplete profile is a sign that they’re just not putting the effort in. Actors Access is a great tool for talent to be more present and involved in their careers, at all stages.
Actors Access Tip: Your Actors Access profile (and the ability to update it) is completely free! Upload 2 headshots, add your first SlateShot℠, update your resume, edit your special skills, include your size card, and view breakdowns 24/7 at no cost to you!
What other resources would you recommend for actors who are just starting out?
Google… or ACTRA! I always send people to the ACTRA website, especially if they’re looking for an agent. There are lots of great resources available on there, even if you’re not a member. Workshops are always worth looking into as well!
Actors Access Tip: Looking for representation? Talent Link (coming soon to our Canadian offices) may be for you! With Talent Link, we send your pictures, resume, and performance video to every Talent Agent listed with Breakdown Services in your region! When a Talent Agent is interested, we forward their inquiry and information to you, keeping you in control of who you want to contact. Stay tuned for more information on Talent Link making its way to Canada!
There is a lot of great talent in this city and a ton of competition. Any thoughts on dealing with rejection gracefully?
I respect actors and what they’re doing for a profession… it’s hard! I want them to do well. I don’t bring in actors to waste time; I bring them in because I think they have a great chance at getting the part. I just want them to know that when I keep bringing them in, it means I see potential in them! Even just getting an audition is an accomplishment in this business.
Actors Access Tip: Be sure to check your cMail (Actors Access audition notification system) frequently so you never miss an audition request or invitation to self-tape! Set your preferences to send you an email each time you receive a new cMail message.
What was your big break into casting?
I told a producer I was working with that I wanted to get into casting, so he introduced me to (Casting Director) John Buchan and he hired me! I worked as a Casting Assistant for him for about 8 months. After that, I just kept on volunteering and doing dailies… I was constantly e-mailing people looking for more work. My first big break was when I landed a gig casting a promo at MUCH Music — they have such an amazing creative team, I worked on so many fun, quirky jobs there! I became the go-to girl for commercials and promos. Since then, I’ve never had to advertise — all of my clients come from referrals. I put my heart into every job and my clients know that I love, love, love what I do.
Actors Access tip: Love, love, love what you do! Take charge. Ask questions. Know what your agent uses to submit you. That is all part of your job.
What is it that you love so much about casting?
I just love people. I love directing people and giving them emotions — pushing them into different characters and pulling them out of their comfort zones. I love hearing people’s stories and learning what makes them tick. I’m a very empathetic person, so sometimes I’ll sit down with an actor before an audition and say “Tell me your story, I wanna know all about you” and from there I try to draw from their real-life situations to direct them in a scene. I get to meet a lot of crazy, fun characters along the way, too!
Actors Access tip: Be yourself. Be honest. Be open. Be prepared. Make choices. Be directable.
Be Prepared. You have to be ready to dive right in and keep a flexible schedule. A lot of the time, casting is rushed, especially in the commercial world — it’s such a fast turnaround! You might have an audition the same day you get the call, and no one wants to hear excuses.
Actors Access Tip: All day, every day, Breakdown Services is releasing breakdowns; over 43,000 every year! Keep your Actors Access profile up to date so it’s always ready to be sent to Casting.
Be Present. If you want to brand yourself as a professional actor, you should be present on social media. Interact with other people in the business and be a part of the community! Follow people you admire. Share your excitement online when you get an audition or book something!
Actors Access Tip: We are always happy to hear your #cMail stories —Tweet us @ActorsAccess or tag Actors Access Canada on Facebook so we can share your success!
Be Proactive. You can’t just sit back and expect your agent to do everything for you. The people who make it in this business are the ones who work really hard! Sign up for seminars and take every opportunity you can to get in front of Casting Directors. If you can spend $10 at Starbucks every day, save that for a couple of weeks and go take a workshop!
Actors Access Tip: Be a proactive actor. Actors Access gives you the opportunity to take charge and invest in your career. Don’t leave it to your agent to keep your profile up to date — it’s often a Casting Director’s first impression of you.
Be Professional. Always be conscious of what you say, because you never know who might be a Casting Assistant or a Producer or a client. There are ears and eyes everywhere — especially online — and you have to be careful! As easily as you can land a role, you can also never get booked in this city again if you put a bad taste in someone’s mouth.
Actors Access Tip: Be polite to everyone. Say “Hello,” “Goodbye,” “Please,” and “Thank You.”
We would like to thank Jules Fitzsimmons for sharing her honest insight from the perspective of the Casting Director. If you’d like to be featured on the Breakdown Services blog, or have a Breakdown Services – Actors Access success story you’d like to share, email firstname.lastname@example.org!
Breakdown Services provides resources for Casting Directors, Talent Agents, Actors and Filmmakers across North America. We provide support and services to professionals in film, television and theatre at every stage of their career. If you’d like more information about casting your next project, updating your Actors Access profile or anything in between, visit: