We jumped into an early morning conversation with Dereck Andrade, a steadily working actor, professional laugher and passionate leader. He took us through his Casting Networks success story, including how it helped him develop relationships that keep him steadily working.
Dereck, thank you for taking a minute to chat with me today about your experience with Casting Networks and your success with the platform. Can you talk a little about that?
I’ll tell you right off the top that I really enjoy being on Casting Networks because it cuts to the chase. I don’t have to deal with calling services and their attitude about “who you know.” You don’t have to pay a percentage every time you get booked as you do with these calling services, so you save money, and you can directly access casting directors and others, whereas when you use a calling service, you know you’re relying on them to market you.
I hadn’t thought of that.
I tell people that this town is based on who you know and who you’re related to. Casting Networks evens the playing field. Everyone has a shot at getting something when you submit, and I just believe it’s fairer and it’s more financially equitable for people who are on a budget especially, and I don’t want to date this, but especially now with this labor dispute.
And commercials are still shooting.
Yes, and on Casting Networks, you get to see them in real-time, just as all the agents do. I’ll tell you this, too, in the first part of 2023, I had very few bookings through any of the casting agencies I know. With Casting Networks, I was able to book, and this was God’s truth, I was able to book numerous audience shows as a professional laugher that provided me with about 90% of the money I made in the first 90 to 120 days of 2023. All the bookings came through Casting Networks.
It’s important that we get this message out, so again, Casting Networks, it’s been a godsend for me because I’ve been able to create relationships with most of the productions that need professional laughers, and that runs the gamut from [game show] to [late night talk show]. They all know me now, and they all know me through Casting Networks.
I didn’t even think about professional laughing and that it could be so lucrative.
There’s another thing too. A lot of my friends use these calling services, and they pay $75 or $80 a month, and they get booked for the same shows that I’m getting booked for through Casting Networks, and I don’t have to pay a penny. I pay one fee during the year. I really would tell people that when Casting Networks provides an opportunity where you can sign up for a discount, jump at that opportunity because it will save money in the long term, and it will also provide great opportunities to submit for jobs.
How did you get started in this business?
I got started when I was a student at the University of Southern California. A friend of mine was a PA, and he asked me to do some background work and this was back in the 80s.
Have you done it steadily since then?
I wasn’t always treated the best as a background artist, so I stopped doing it. About five years ago, when I had some changes in my family, I needed something to occupy my time. I’m a former publicist and teach public relations and journalism at Pasadena City College. Within the last five years, I started getting back into this, and then maybe two or three years ago, I found out about Casting Networks.
So what’s next for you? Game shows and commercials are still filming.
I am very grateful that Casting Networks provided me the opportunity to create a wonderful relationship with [a major network]. There are some shows, especially audience shows, where I actually have my own seat. Every show I sit in the same seat doing the same thing, and it’s because Casting Networks afforded me the opportunity to have that door open and I walked through.
And what door will you be walking through next?
I’ve submitted for some independent films that the Screen Actors Guild graciously allowed to continue production because they’re not affiliated with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, but right now my main focus is supporting my fellow actors and my colleagues on the writing side to get back to work.
Do you have any tips for those who are submitting on Casting Networks or newly signing up for the platform?
I would suggest that people join Casting Networks first and foremost. Casting Networks, you get to pick and choose what you are submitting for, and you’re not told that you have to be somewhere for five or seven days, so you get to control your own calendar. It does afford you more of an opportunity to control your own destiny.
Lastly, do you have any thoughts for an actor who is on set for the first time?
I would suggest that you get there early and bring the appropriate attire that you’re asked to bring. Always come camera-ready and always have your hair done, and come with a great attitude. I’m excited to work because this is really a privilege to work in this industry, to be a background actor or to be a principal. It’s always a privilege. Remember, we’re following in the footsteps of other great actors and people in this industry who have given everything they can to make this a great working opportunity. Hollywood is still a great industry. Acting is a great career to have, and I would suggest that people sign up for Casting Networks and do it now, not later.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity and for compliance with SAG-AFTRA strike rules.
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