Welcome to the first in our interview series of “Casting Call Corner!” As both a VO artist and a casting director, Kristina Erdely has straddled both sides of the voiceover world; we wanted to learn more and share some of her insights with you!
Hi Kristina! First of all…how did you get started as a casting director/VO artist/actress?
I got into acting at the age of 19 in Budapest, Hungary where I am from. I wasn’t looking for it, it found me. I was training to be and worked as a scenic artist in a Hungarian Film Studio (Art Department in Film and TV) and my dramaturgy teacher was a wonderful theatre director who tricked me into taking on the leading female role in the incredible classic : Woyzeck. We had 40 successful shows and I fell in love. I attended 3 years of drama school after that, they had a lot of stress on voice work there and clear speech and voice work was “beaten into us”. I moved to England in 1998 and started working as a vo artist soon after and I never stopped loving it. I stopped acting about 13 years ago and became a casting director. I produced theatre in Budapest after I finished Drama school and I also produced 3 shows here in the UK. Casting was something I always enjoyed so when I was asked to cast the wonderful feature film Biblioteque Pascal 13 years ago I jumped on the offer. That is how it began 🙂
What was your first gig? Any memorable ones since then?
First memorable gig as an actress was Woyzeck, many more followed, I mainly worked in theatre. Getting work in film and tv with a Hungarian accent at the time was pretty tough but I believe the industry is opening up and it is the most inclusive it has ever been. We have more work to do here in the UK but I am hopeful. As a casting director it was the film Biblioteque Pascal and many memorable since then, The Royals, Love Death + Robots, The Hundred Year Old man who climbed out the window and disappeared (the longest title ever-can you tell it’s comedy???) and I loved working on the film for which we are nominated at tonight’s National Film Awards in the best comedy category : Eaten By Lions and many more. Voce Over gigs : I loved working for Disney, Nickelodeon where I got to voice so many wonderful programs, I also had a wonderful ongoing gig for years for BBC Earth, I loved all the wonderful programs, not only did I get to voice and also narrate so many different voices but I learnt so much about our world
What’s a typical day like at your casting company?
This one got me thinking. The real answer is, there isn’t a typical day. It depends on what project I am working on, whether from home or based in the studio with the team, TV or Film. Or there are the times when I don’t have any projects on, that is the time to really refill the knowledge bank, watch as many shows as I can, create cast lists, adding to the ever growing databases, reading the many industry publications, networking, attending webinars, seminars, festivals and also as a freelancer: hustling for more work 😉
Has being on both sides of the casting fence, as a director and as an actor, helped you?
Absolutely. Having been an actor is what helps me bringing the best out of actors. The feedback from actors and agents alike is that actors love being “in the room” with me (rather than self tape if they live far) as I know what it’s like to be in their shoes, i try my best to make them feel at ease so they can do their best work. I also believe that the actors’ gut feeling about how to play the role is almost always right, but if they feel nervous the gut feeling may be silenced. We all perform better in a nurturing, understanding environment. As a casting director I learned that what I heard so often as an actress is true: the casting director/director wants you to do well and get the role!
What did it feel like the first time you saw something you produced and/or voiced?
I paint, produce, cast, do voiceovers and when I acted seeing the result is a very similar feeling. That incredible feeling that one only gets from accomplishing something. It doesn’t have to be a huge thing, but just a piece of work you are proud of. That feeling of: woow, I did this. It feels wonderful. And then sometimes looking back in retrospect I feel like: Woow, I did this? How?!
Can you tell when a client has the potential to “make it” and if yes, what is it about them?
Yes. Not sure I can tell you exactly what it is about them but from my end It’s probably instinct and experience. Professionalism, being prepared, willing to take risks i.e. not always going for the safe performance, listening to your gut, being a good listener i.e. not just focus on your lines but what is being said to you……imagination, passion, respect and a gentle confidence…
Who do you look up to in the industry/any business mentors?
Far too many to list but the list definitely includes Jennifer Smith, BFI Dawn McCarthy, PACT Marc Samuelson, BAFTA and independent producer Tracy Forsyth, exec coach.
If you weren’t doing casting/voiceover/acting, what else do you think you’d be doing for a career?
Creative writing and ART!!!! Going back to my roots that the entertainment industry took me away from :)) I am creating a children’s book right now and have an art project in development
Can you offer 3 helpful tips for newbies trying to make it in the voice-over industry?
Enjoy the process! Love your voice. Try out new things (I was worried about characters and animation at the beginning , turns out I love it!) and don’t give up 🙂 Whenever I start a vo recording I always take a moment to close my eyes and remember how much I enjoy it and everything as if by magic – flows. Relax! You’ve got this!
And, on a more serious note….
Hmmmm….Have I not come across serious enough above?? 🙂 Live life with a smile. Remember why this job chose you 😉 Because you have a wonderful voice to share with the world.
If you had a choice between two superpowers, being invisible or flying, which would you choose, and why?
Definitely Flying! My 7 year old too. So that’s cool, we can fly to places together! PS: she is an actress WHY, when she could be anything????!!!! :)))
You’ve been given an elephant. You can’t give it away or sell it. What would you do with the elephant?
Keep it as a family member. They are incredible beings.