Interview: Cara Chute
By Maureen O’Leary, Presidential Scholar in the Arts in Acting, GWU 2016
What was your incoming major, and what was your graduating degree? Did it change, and why? Is it what you imagined yourself doing initially?
I graduated in 2007 with a double major in Dramatic Literature and Theatre. When I had originally applied to GW, I had planned on majoring in English and minoring in Theatre, so in a sense I kind of ended up on the same path! I have always had a love and a passion for performing, but originally thought that it wouldn't be practical to major in theatre. When I got to GW, I hit the ground running joining Generic Theatre Company and just sort of never looked back. During my freshman year, I also discovered the Dramatic Literature major through an upper classman, and thought it was the perfect combination of all the things I loved. I actually really enjoyed the Drama Lit major. We were a small, but mighty group!
You are a casting director -- what does a typical day look like in your work?
I wish there was such a thing as a typical work day! I work in television, so our days vary depending on where we are in an episode. Generally we have about 7 days to cast an episode when we are working on a series. We'll get a script, concept with the director and producers to make sure we know exactly what they are looking for, and then release a breakdown of the roles to the agents and managers. The agents and managers submit their clients, and then we go through all of the submissions deciding who we are going to call in for an audition. We will spend days auditioning actors, then once a decision is made on who gets the role, negotiate a deal to book them. On any given day we could be doing any one of those things. That's kind of why I love working in this field, you never know exactly what is going to happen. My favorite thing about this job is being in auditions. There is nothing better than being in a casting session and having an actor come in and just kill it is awesome. It's a great moment for us when we find someone who really captures the essence of the story that we are trying to tell.
How was it making the leap to L.A.? Was it something that you did directly after college, or were there any points in-between?
After graduating from GW, I applied and was accepted to the BU in LA Graduate Acting In Hollywood Program. I moved to Los Angeles the August after my graduation from GW. It is a one semester, internship based program through Boston University. At the time, I thought I still wanted to be an actor. The program was amazing. It basically gave you 3 months to explore Los Angeles, make amazing connections, and figure out if you could handle being in this insane world. I had acting classes at night, and during the day had amazing internships at a talent agency and at a casting office. My first internship was in casting with April Webster & Associates on the TV show "Criminal Minds." I fell in love. Something clicked. It just made sense to me. About 6 months after my program at BU ended, April offered me an assistant job on a new series. The rest is history.
What kind of advice would you give to someone going into the industry? What kind of things at school helped prepare you for the "real world"?
This industry is filled with a lot of different types of people. Some take themselves too seriously; some don't take things seriously enough. I have always been very self-motivated and I think that has helped me a lot in my field, and in Los Angeles. You have to have enough confidence to do something by yourself, but you cannot be afraid to ask for help when you need it. I think that my experiences at GW as the Executive Producer of Generic Theatre Company really helped me prepare for, and have the confidence in myself to do what I am doing now. Generic Theatre Company is an AMAZING student run organization at GW, which not only produces incredible theatre, but the most amazing bonds between people.
How do you see the industry in ten years?
The industry is changing dramatically. Between the technology that's available, and the ability for people to create their own webisodes, vlogs, and talk shows, I really don't know what is going to happen. We are at an amazing advantage to have demo reels available online, and to be able to stream and send auditions on the internet. I just hope that we are able to keep up with the technology. I love my job, and I hope to do it for as long as I can!
Finally, what is your fondest memory of GW, and how does your experience at the school carry over into your everyday life?
Oh man, I have so many great memories from GW. Working with Nate Garner and the cast of "Proof" on the main stage my junior year was a life-changing theatrical experience. My senior year, I was in the main stage's production "Juvenilia," and the rehearsing show with Elizabeth Kitsos-Kang and the cast was some of the most fun I have ever had. But I think some of my best memories came from the 24 Hour Play. Every semester Generic produced the 24 hour play which was conceived, written, rehearsed, and performed all in the span of 24 hours. The combination of sleep deprivation and chaos produced hilarious comedy that always kept us on our toes. It was a truly amazing to get things done!
Presidential Scholar in the Arts in Acting, GWU 2016