From the selection process to working with agents and directors, CASTING DIRECTORS are the connective tissue between the talent and a production. This panel illuminates the various paths to becoming a Casting Director. Watch this Network recording as panelists share experiences from the early stages of their career and offer advice for the upcoming generation of aspiring casting directors.

Our Moderator

Saheem Ali

Saheem is a proud immigrant from Kenya. He is the Associate Artistic Director/Resident Director of the Public Theater. Recent productions include Shipwreck (The Public, Woolly Mammoth), Richard II (The Public), Fires in The Mirror (Signature Theater), The Rolling Stone (Lincoln Center Theater), The New Englanders (MTC), Passage (Soho Rep), Fireflies (Atlantic Theater Company), Dangerous House (Williamstown Theater Festival), Sugar in Our Wounds (MTC), Tartuffe (Playmakers Rep), Where Storms Are Born (WTF), Twelfth Night (The Public), Kill Move Paradise (National Black Theater), Nollywood Dreams (Cherry Lane) and Dot (Detroit Public Theater). He has workshopped new plays at Playwrights Horizons, Playwrights Realm, MCC, New York Stage & Film, Page 73 and The Lark. He is a Usual Suspect at New York Theater Workshop, Sir John Gielgud SDCF Fellow and a Shubert Fellow.

Our Panelists

Destiny Lilly

Destiny Lilly is a casting director based in New York. She recently cast the independent feature film, The Subject, which won the Best Narrative Feature award at the 2020 Art of Brooklyn Film Festival. She has cast plays and musicals for Classic Stage Company, New York Stage & Film, MCC Theater, Atlantic Theater Company, Second Stage Theater, Theaterworks Hartford, Center Theatre Group, and the Williamstown Theatre Festival. Destiny is an advocate for actors and artists and she currently serves on the board of directors of the Casting Society of America.

Bernard Telsey

Bernard Telsey, along with his staff have cast such Broadway shows as Rent, Wicked, Hairspray, In the Heights, Kinky Boots, Hamilton, and more, as well as national tours, Off-Broadway, and regional theatre productions across the country. 

Some of Telsey’s film projects include Ben is Back, The Greatest Showman, and Into the Woods, as well as the upcoming Respect, In the Heights, and Dear Evan Hansen.

Telsey won an Emmy for casting the pilot of “Ugly Betty” and was nominated for “Fosse/Verdon,” “This Is Us,” “Grease! Live,” “Jesus Christ Superstar: Live in Concert” and “The Big C.” He was the 2016 recipient of the Casting Society of America’s Hoyt Bowers Award for his contributions to the profession. 

Telsey serves as the New York Vice President of the Casting Society of America and on the Board of Governors for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. He is one of the co-Artistic Directors of MCC Theater.

Erica Jensen

As one third of the Artios-Award winning team of Calleri Jensen Davis, Erica Jensen has worked steadily in film, television and theater for over 20 years. Erica’s career began with an internship in the casting office at Playwrights Horizons, which is where she met James Calleri and discovered a love for casting. Her internship led to a position as the Talent Coordinator on Comedy Central’s Chappelle’s Show during its second season. She returned to work with James when he was hired to cast the ABC sitcom Hope & Faith. Shortly after, Calleri Casting was officially formed and has been her professional home ever since. Erica was named American Theater magazine’s Top Theater Workers you should know in 2017. Erica holds an MFA in Acting from Illinois State University. She is a proud member of the Casting Society of America.

Tara Rubin

Tara Rubin started her company in April, 2001 after working for 15 years as a Casting Director at Johnson-Liff Associates.  During those years she worked on productions of Les Miserables, Phantom of the Opera, Cats, Sunset Boulevard, Jerry Zaks’ revival of Guys and Dolls and Miss Saigon.  She also cast the daytime drama Another World and Dan Aykroyd’s series Soul Man.

At Tara Rubin Casting, she and her colleagues cast the musicals School of Rock, It Shoulda Been You, Gigi, Bullets Over Broadway, Big Fish, Mamma Mia!, Jersey Boys, Les Miserables, Phantom of the Opera, Aladdin, Mary Poppins, Spamalot, The Producers, Young Frankenstein, Promises, Promises, How To Succeed… for Broadway as well as The Country Girl, The Heiress, The Farnsworth Invention and A Time To Kill.  They recently completed their 12th season as Casting Directors for Yale Repertory Theater and have worked with many regional theaters including La Jolla Playhouse, The Williamstown Theater Festival, Dallas Theater Center, Arena Stage, and The Westport Country Playhouse.

Tara graduated with honors from Boston University and serves on the board of the Casting Society of America.


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