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The Acting Podcast
Ep. 23: Mary Queen of Casting: A Candid Conversation w/ Mary Vernieu
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Casting titan Mary Vernieu, whose company Betty Mae Casting is known for working with prestige directors and indie talent alike, joins Risa and Steve in this episode for an in-depth discussion of the casting process, the importance of preparation, championing and nurturing actors and filmmakers, and always approaching the work of acting, auditioning, and casting with creativity, joy, flexibility, and play. Mary’s journey has been incredible so far; she’s created a meaningful, creative family at Betty Mae, and is deeply grateful for it all. We are thrilled to share this insightful and moving conversation with you. Fun fact: Mary started in Risa’s office in 1990 and says she “learned everything she knows from Risa.” She built her casting empire soon thereafter… Betty Mae is now 25 years old!
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“The word ‘discovery’ is an important word. When you come into an audition, and you’ve thought about it in different ways, you can be fluid in your creativity in the room. That’s what’s gonna spark interest- to find somebody who is truly artistic in their approach.”
- Mary Vernieu
“I just grew up at a time where I couldn’t name one female director…or not a single woman would get on stage to accept a producer award at the Oscars…representation matters because if you don’t see it, you don’t know that you can do it. Being a woman on the other side of the camera was not something that I ever saw.”
“Then the desperation went away and I had an ease in audition rooms that I’d never had before because I had a life outside of wanting someone to pick me.”
“It happened entirely because I was following the path that was put in front of me without a tremendous amount of judgment around it. And I’m a judgy motherfucker…if I can do this, anyone can.”
“Walk into every room, and everything you ever write, and everything you create, and just make it you, just authentically you. And most of the time, the people who’ll respond to it will love it because you’re being yourself and there’s only one of you in the world. And it feels amazing when you put yourself forward and people reward you for it.”
Guests & Resources:
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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