'Vampire Diaries' Casting Director Cancels $185 Workshops Amid Pay-to-Play Scrutiny
Greg Orson’s classes in late April asked prospective students in Atlanta to submit a “current headshot and résumé.”
The Vampire Diaries casting director Greg Orson has canceled a series of workshops later this month in Georgia, where the show is filmed, pulling advertisements for the classes after fielding questions from The Hollywood Reporter.
This comes after the March 30 publication of THR’s investigation into the growing prevalence of pay-to-play auditions and the high-profile dismissal of prominent casting director Scott David (CBS’ Criminal Minds) that soon followed.
Orson, who has been with The CW’s hit drama since its start, had been advertising under the banner of his own GO Casting Academy a slate of three-hour classes on April 29 and 30, at $185 per student, to be held at Get Scene Studios in Atlanta. (Prices on the so-called “roadshow circuit” traversed by casting directors around the country are typically much higher than the market rate average of $50 per class in the Los Angeles area.) Applicants were asked to submit a “current headshot and résumé” and told that they “do not need to prepare anything for class. Material will be provided for you.”
The remainder of the syllabus — which included “audition techniques and the audition process” — was tagged with a standard workshop disclaimer that “the presence of a casting director is neither a guarantee or a promise of work.” The advertisement was topped with a promotional image of The Vampire Diaries, and then followed by similar publicity shots from other shows Orson has worked on (The CW’s upcoming Containment, TV Land’s Younger).
The CW and The Vampire Diaries’ studio, Warner Bros. TV, did not return requests to comment.
Orson asserted that he already had decided to cancel the workshops as the result of “a death in my family over the weekend.” Though the advertisement was still live when THR first communicated with Orson on Monday, it was soon thereafter taken down. (An archived version can still be read below.) He went on to defend his regular workshop participation in California as “an educational experience, and not an audition or employment opportunity,” noting he is careful to follow California state guidelines regarding the practice.
“I have 25 years of experience casting various shows, and I feel that the information provided in an educational setting has been extremely beneficial for actors who are trying to navigate the business,” he says. “There is a lot to learn other than just auditioning, and our classes have helped numerous actors book roles on other casting directors’ projects.”
Orson’s workshops have been given glowing testimonials for their efficacy in the past. Multiple students listed by name on the website of the Sherman Oaks-based TVI Actors Studio enthused of how they’d been called in for roles on The Secret Circle, his previous show on The CW. However, the casting director insists he’s “not hired one actor on The Vampire Diaries from any of my educational classes.”
UPDATE, 7 p.m. Since this story was first published, TVI Actors Studio took down the webpage described in the above paragraph. An archived version, as it appeared earlier today, can be viewed below.