Alumni Spotlight: Patrick Goodwin C’06, Casting Director

Patrick Goodwin has worked in casting at Telsey + Company since 2006 after graduating from Drew University with a double major in Theatre Arts and Political Science. He also works as an adjunct professor at Pace University, where he teaches courses on the entertainment industry and the art of casting.  He has been a guest educator at New York University, Columbia University, and Wagner College as well as several colleges, high schools, and arts education organizations across the country. Patrick’s recent casting credits on Broadway include Tina: The Tina Turner Musical, The Cher Show, Waitress, Kinky Boots, SpongeBob Squarepants, Finding Neverland, Pippin, Chaplin and Annie. Other recent projects include the film The Greatest Showman, and regional/off-Broadway musicals such as My Very Own British Invasion, The Honeymooners, The Radio City Spectacular featuring The Rockettes and A View from the Bridge. He was recently nominated for an Emmy award for the casting of Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert and has won several Artios Awards for Excellence in Casting. Patrick is a proud member of the Casting Society of America.

“There is always an alternate route to success.  Sometimes not having your Plan A work out can lead you to where you want to be.” ~ Patrick Goodwin

PATRICK AT DREW UNIVERSITY

Patrick was born and raised in Cape Cod, Massachusetts and was not sure if he wanted to be an actor or a lawyer. He came to Drew University precisely because it gave him an opportunity to major in both Political Science and Theatre Arts. While at Drew, he performed in two plays: The Diary of Anne Frank and The Elephant Man, three musical productions: Ragtime, Urinetown and a student-run production of The Last Five Years. He also ran Cross Country, sang in the “All of the Above” Acapella Group, and was a Resident Assistant for two years.  Some of his best memories include the Semester in London where he was able to take Theater and Political Science classes, see two shows a week, and meet fellow artists and cast members. Another great Drew memory was his Drew International Seminar (DIS) trip to Cairo, Egypt, led by Professor of Religion Christopher Taylor. He gained a deep appreciation for Middle Eastern culture, enjoyed being outside his comfort zone, and had an opportunity to meet local politicians, clerics, and artists. He also visited Aswan, Luxor and Giza, which included a trip inside a pyramid.  He had two mentors at Drew, Prof. of Political Science Phil Mundo, who was “a great person to talk to about life, politics, and law”, and Prof. of Theatre Arts Joe Patenaude, who Patrick feels gave him the best advice when he told him NOT go to grad school.

PATRICK AND CASTING

What do you enjoy most about casting?

I love that my job is never done. There’s always new talent to find. I am always challenged in that respect so there is very little down time. Casting is very niche- It forces you to look outside of the box to find your answers because they will rarely be found right in front of you. It’s fascinating that social media can now help you find the exact actor you’re looking for, or that a downtown comedy show in a barbershop can also bring you the best people.  I also love that I meet people—both clients and actors—whom I would normally never have the chance to interact with.

Do you recognize “star quality” right away?

It is very rare that you meet someone who is that diamond in the rough, but it also depends on the project.  An actor can be very talented and not right for a specific part but absolutely perfect for something else. I remember when I first saw an actress named Micaela Diamond for a project; she was 18 years old and had just graduated from LaGuardia Performing Arts High School in Manhattan. She was SO well prepared, unique, and made such amazing choices. At the end of the day, she wasn’t right for that particular project I saw her for, but then 9 months later she was cast as one of the lead roles in The Cher Show on Broadway and in the Emmy-nominated TV Live Broadcast of Jesus Christ Superstar.

What do you think are the characteristics of a great casting director?

You need a good memory to remember everyone you’ve seen.  You need to work at all hours—when you’re watching a film or a television series at 11pm after a long day of work, you’re still taking mental notes and putting them in your brain for the future as those actors you are watching might be perfect for a project that comes up.  It’s equally important to develop your own taste and be able to support why you think someone is or is not right for a project.  Casting directors also need to understand that they are unique in that they are both artists and businesspeople.

Is there a casting director you admire?

The owner of Telsey + Company and my boss, Bernie Telsey. He started the company in 1988.  We now have offices on both coasts and sometimes have over 100 projects active at the same time and he personally keeps the pulse on all of them. His commitment and involvement is truly remarkable. That attention to detail really separates him from others.  He’s also one of the kindest human beings I know.

For Drew students and prospective actors – How can they make a good impression on a casting director?

My favorite quote about my industry has always been: “If you’re early you’re on time, if you’re on time you’re late, and if you’re late you’re fired.”

Get to your audition early having done your homework for that audition. It’s all about what choices you are going to make with the scenes or songs that you’ve been given that are unique, specific, and make you stand out from the others. You should have a professional headshot and resume. There are good photography packages out there that are not too expensive. In terms of your resume, don’t lie! We will know if you are making up credits. It’s okay to include high school productions if that’s all you’ve done. Be sure include your education, people you have studied with and do not come in costume.

Are there things that make someone a better TV, commercial or theater actor?

It’s really the training.  People who put in the work to do on-camera classes will do better in film and commercials.  This is a different art form than theater and you should train for it.  It’s different in front of a camera.  Lots of schools are incorporating this type of acting into their programs but there are also a bunch on independent studios in New York that offer great, affordable on-camera classes with industry professionals.

Self-taped video auditions should be the same content as if you are coming in live.  Be conscious of your backdrop, your lighting, your sound, having a good reader and making sure that you watch it before sending it in!

What is the mark of a great actor?

It’s someone who makes a unique bold choice when they walk into the room.  Also, do your homework/research before auditioning and know who’s going to be in the room and what they have worked on in the past. I love actors who treat auditions like job interviews.

Were you ever interested in doing anything else in entertainment? Directing? Producing?

I would love to learn to produce film or TV in the future in addition to being a casting director.

FUN QUESTIONS

Favorite actors/actresses? Films? Plays?

Actors: Laurie Metcalf and Keegan-Michael Key; Films: The Godfather and Moonlight ; Plays: August of Osage County and The Normal Heart

If you could try another career what would it be?

A high school teacher or college professor

Fun facts about you?  

I was a Wheel of Fortune champion.

If you could travel anywhere tomorrow where it would be?

Australia

Closing advice for our theater students?

It seems like the entertainment industry is at a standstill because of the pandemic, but know that it is going to come back.  People are still creating and writing, so there will be a resurgence once public health goes back to a normal place.  Don’t NOT go into the arts right now because you think it won’t provide career opportunities.  It will come back stronger than it ever was, it will just take some time.

 

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