Joanna Colbert and Annie Burgstede Present TRUST: What Makes an Actor Get the Part?

Chill time. Teenage African boy in headphones listening to the mJoanna Colbert began her career as an assistant to Juliet Taylor in New York City where she worked on a number of Woody Allen films. In 1994, under the mentorship of Taylor, Colbert conducted a nationwide search which resulted in the casting of Kirsten Dunst in her role in Neil Jordan’s Interview with a Vampire. Colbert then went on to Universal Pictures as Manager of Casting and then Senior VP of Casting. In 2001 she formed Joanna Colbert Casting. In all, Colbert has been involved in casting more than 50 films including The Good Girl, No Strings Attached, Warm Bodies, Hollywoodland, The Wackness, Cedar Rapids, Must Love Dogs, and the Step-Up franchise. Colbert is one of the producers of the critically acclaimed and Emmy nominated, HBO documentary, Casting By. In 2010, she formed the casting and production company, Filmsocial. Colbert is a graduate of Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, as well as the California Institute of the Arts Dance program.

Annie Burgstede is a graduate of Interlochen Arts Academy. Her screenplay Monumental is set to shoot this fall starring Jeremy Irons, Virginia Madsen, and AnnaSophia Robb. Annie has two pilots in development at major studios. Along with her television writing her short film, Hes the Best, has competed in several festivals, and her feature Kill My Daddy, along with her co-written graphic novel, My Blood Wants Your Blood, has been optioned by Walk Like A Duck Productions. Prior to writing Annie worked as an actress. She’s known for her roles on Days of Our Lives and Smallville. Along with starring in several award winning independent films, Annie made guest and recurring appearances in other television series including: CSI, Without a Trace, Rizzoli & Isles, Everwood, Cold Case, All of Us, Charmed, and Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior.


Time after time people ask us, “what makes an actor get the part?” What is that indescribable je ne sais quoi that the “it” person has? There is one thing that sets these individuals apart from the pack and it is TRUST. It is someone who walks into the room trusting themselves – trusting their choices, trusting they are enough, and trusting that they deserve to be there. But don’t be fooled, trust isn’t an easy thing.  Trust is earned.  Trust is developed.  Trust is a daily practice. Building trust takes consistency, tenacity, and persistence.

For so many actors that trust is broken because they are not prioritizing and organizing their schedule to support their dream and they are not transforming obstacles into opportunities. They have lost touch with their intuition and the reason why they started acting in the first place.

Imagine if your dream was to win the gold medal in the Olympics for swimming one day. Imagine the kind of tenacity, perseverance, training, and dedication it would take to make that dream come true. On top of swimming you would likely be doing other activities that support your swimming – weight lifting, yoga, mental training.  You’d need ample rest to be able to do your best every day. There is never a world in which you’d jump into the pool 15 minutes before the Olympics for a quick warm up and expect to win when others have been in the water day in and day out.

The swimmers who are in the pool every day whip through the water with a level of grace that looks nearly effortless and that makes them win. Actors need to have that same level of effortless grace to be ready for the race we call an audition and this only comes from working that acting muscle everyday like an athlete.

When we say working on acting everyday, actors often become defensive that there isn’t enough time in the day but there is, we promise you. It takes prioritizing what is important, connecting with the reasons why you chose this career in the first place, and making time for it. We know many of you work part time jobs – but don’t forget you have those to support your dreams.  So, make time for your dreams. Look at your calendar and see where you are giving your time.  We bet you’ll see some spaces that you could trade out for your craft. It means; picking up sides and putting them on tape with a roommate and watching it back to see where you can improve, getting into class, rehearsing with friends, exploring your emotional world, auditioning whenever you can, joining a theatre, doing a daily meditation, working on student films, doing one line in your friend’s indie movie, shooting that short you’ve been talking about – being an actor every day. Because if you are an actor every day you will have the strength to serve up something unique, authentic, and original that will make those who witness your work feel your joy. We will feel your connection to your craft and ultimately we will trust you.

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Joanna Colbert began her career as a casting director in association with Juliet Taylor on Interview with a Vampire for which she conducted a nationwide search resulting in the discovery of Kirsten Dunst. Colbert then went on to work at Universal Pictures as the Manager of Casting and then Senior Vice President of Casting, overseeing such blockbusters as The Mummy series, American Pie, Meet the Parents, and Bruce Almighty. She formed Joanna Colbert Casting in 2001 and Colbert/Mento Casting in 2006. Her credits include: No Strings Attached, the Step-Up series, Cedar Rapids, The Mummy, Everything Must Go, Hollywoodland and The Good Girl. Colbert is currently producing several projects, including a documentary about casting and its influence on film titled Casting By, a feature film titled Atticus Run, The Black Version tv series and Kate McClafferty’s blog, 356 til 30.


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