What Casting Wants:
3 Top Casting Directors Tell It Like It Is

Our “Best Of” Conversations with Casting Titans
Sarah Finn, Mary Vernieu & Bernie Telsey

We’re so excited to share with you the “Best Of” our conversations with casting titans Bernie Telsey, Sarah Finn, and Mary Vernieu. From Broadway, to the Marvel Universe, to Oscar-winning films with directors like Darren Aronofsky and David O. Russell, and Chloé Zhao, these Casting Directors are some of the most powerful in the business, and all started their casting careers in Risa’s office decades ago.

We’ve curated this jam-packed episode filled with their advice on auditioning, self-taping, and what they’re looking for in every actor who walks into their rooms- whether in person or virtually. We hope you come to know, as we do, that no matter how huge in their field they are – Mary, Sarah, and Bernie want and need to be affected by you. And when that happens, they will champion you forever.

Meet us on Instagram and other social spaces where we hang out — with tons more great advice, inspiration, and Industry intel.

@BGBStudio on IG + Twitter. @theBGBStudio on FB.

And… If you’re loving the Podcast, screenshot, post + tag @bgbstudio on IG!


MCC Theater site

Since opening Telsey + Company in 1988, Bernie, along with his amazing staff of casting directors, associates, and assistants have cast such Broadway shows as Rent, Wicked, Hairspray, In the Heights, Kinky Boots, Hamilton, Network, Oklahoma!, To Kill a Mockingbird, as well as countless national tours, Off-Broadway productions, and regional theatre productions around the globe. Bernie and staff have worked on the feature films Margin Call, Mary Poppins Returns, The Greatest Showman, Into the Woods, Rachel Getting Married, and many many more, including the upcoming film adaptation of In the Heights. Television projects include Fosse/Verdon, This Is Us, The Big C, Masters of Sex, Ugly Betty, Rent Live, Jesus Christ Superstar Live, as well as upcoming shows for HBO, Netflix, and AppleTV+. Telsey + Company have won an Emmy Award and an Independent Spirit Award for casting and and have been nominated for loads more. Bernie was the 2016 recipient of the Casting Society of America’s Hoyt Bowers Award for his huge contributions to casting. As an office, Telsey + Company have won 25 CSA Artios Awards. Bernie serves as the New York Vice President of the Casting Society of America and serves on the Board of Governors for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Bernie is also one of the artistic directors of MCC Theater in New York, a thriving off Broadway company, newly housed on the west side, the heart of all the work he does.


IMDb + Instagram

Sarah Finn
is an award-winning Casting Director who has cast over 100 feature films. Known for casting the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe, just a few of those films include Captain America, Thor, Guardians of The Galaxy, Ant-Man, Doctor Strange, Spider-Man: Homecoming, and Captain Marvel. She has also earned recognition for the groundbreaking cultural sensations and multiple Oscar-winners Black Panther, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, and 2006’s Best Picture, Crash.  Those three films also all won the SAG Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture and earned her the Casting Society of America’s highest honor, the Artios Award for Outstanding Achievement in Casting.  To date, 43 of her films have opened at #1 in the Domestic Box- Office.  In 2019 alone Sarah cast 4 out of the top 5 grossing films in the world – Avengers: Endgame, The Lion King, Spider-Man: Far from Home and Captain Marvel. For Disney+, she cast the breakout Star Wars hit series The Mandalorian and is currently in charge of casting Marvel’s entire new slate of streaming projects.  A graduate of Yale University and member of AMPAS (Executive Committee, Casting Branch), Sarah has served on the Executive Board of Women in Film and is on the Board of Advisors for the highly acclaimed Master Class educational series.  She is also a founding participant in the Time’s Up Movement.


Betty Mae Casting:
IG, Facebook + Official site

Mary’s IMDb

Mary Vernieu
started her casting career working with Risa (a few) decades ago (first on The Doors with Oliver Stone), and since then she’s built a casting empire with her company Betty Mae Casting, in which she honors and supports filmmakers, new and established. Mary has cast over 300 features and several TV shows during her career, including recently Dolemite is My Name, Knives Out, I, Tonya, Black Swan, and the HBO series Euphoria. With an eye for talent in both actors and filmmakers, she has developed and enjoys long-standing working relationships with many acclaimed directors such as Darren Aronofsky, David Ayer, David O. Russell, Robert Rodriguez, and Rian Johnson. In 2013, Mary won an Artios Award for the casting of Silver Linings Playbook and was nominated for two more Artios Awards last year for A Star is Born and Deadpool II. In addition to her casting work, Mary has also recently ventured into producing for such films as Trust Me, Come Simi, and Spare Room.

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