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Photo courtesy of Roberto Ordonez.

Success Story: How Roberto Ordonez Went From Working Behind the Camera to Booking ‘Law & Order’ on Casting Networks

Rob Ordonez has been working as a background actor for the better part of seven years. He caught the acting bug by happenstance during his photography days and never looked back. He’s done work on Law & Order, Gotham and many other projects that he booked on Casting Networks. He even gets recognized for his appearances!

The actor shares stories of getting started as an actor and how he uses Casting Networks to book high-profile gigs.

How did you decide to become an actor?

I’ve been a photographer since I was 18 years old. I was curious to be in front of and behind the camera, but it didn’t happen until 10 years ago when one of the models that I photographed was filming a movie. Back then I had an interesting look—a blue mohawk and tattoos and piercings. He told me, “The director is looking for an extra actor and you have an edgy look.”

So I went to try and the director loved me and he ended up putting me as one of the secondary actors. It was the first movie I did and I fell in love with it. After that, I was hooked. [The film] is called The Endless Possibility of Sky. I was a punk who was homeless and a thief. I was a bad boy.

poster for the endless possibility of sky Photo courtesy of Roberto Ordonez.

How did you first discover Casting Networks?

I’m from Mexico City and became legal when I got married. That’s when I said, “Okay, now I’m done doing freebies, let me do it seriously.” I started Googling and I ran into Casting Networks and I love it. I’ve been doing it for six or seven years.

Tell me about your experience booking Law & Order. What was the process like and what happened when you got on-set?

They were looking for stand-ins and I guess I kind of looked like the guy. It’s funny because when I got there he was a little taller than me and much older. The other stand-ins looked very similar to the actors and I didn’t really look like that actor, but I didn’t care because when I got there it was the very first time I did stand-in.

They said, “We’re going to do the scene with the main actors, so you pay attention. Team One come here.” They did the scene and then we did our scene. As the second team, we had to stand up where the main actor was. I didn’t have to say his lines, but I had to stand up exactly where he was, turn toward the way he was looking and interact with the other actor.

After that, I got [to be a stand-in] a couple more times. You just have to be very alert when they call the second team and be there on time.

What would you say helps someone succeed on Casting Networks?

On every little thing they contact you for, say yes. … If you start doing whatever they send you, they see that you’re reliable. Be committed, never cancel and just be professional. If they want you with short hair and shaved or to bring a couple of looks, bring everything they ask for. They like that.

Rob Ordonez in the background on an episode of the undoing. Photo courtesy of Roberto Ordonez.

What are some other successes and high-profile jobs that you’ve booked on Casting Networks?

I worked many times on Law & Order and they have shown me on TV, especially in SVU. I always get lucky with Law & Order—all of them. Whenever I go do Law & Order, most of the time I get featured. I also worked on Gotham. I love that show.

Since I’ve been doing background for seven years, I have seen actors that I never dreamed of [sharing the same space with]. We cannot speak to them, but to be in the same room with them, I feel honored and I feel that I can learn a lot from them.

A very good job that I got through Casting Networks was a commercial for [news channel] NY1 that I got right before the pandemic with [host] Errol Louis. That was before I was SAG, and they still show the commercial. People come up to me and say “Oh, I saw you on NY1.” That’s pretty cool that I get that.

What was that like?

For those kinds of things, they don’t say much until you get there. It was in the summertime and I wore these shorts. I didn’t even have a change [of clothes] that day. They said, “Oh no, we like that look.” They ended up putting me right next to Errol Louis talking with him while crossing the street, so they show me all the time.

What’s your advice on how to approach an audition?

You know what’s funny? When I’m doing stand-ins near the big stars, I hear them saying, “Just go to that audition like you don’t care.” Go prepare and everything, but don’t try too hard. Just go there like you don’t care.

If you get the part, just be yourself and be relaxed. They like it when you’re yourself. I tend to get very tense and that shows. [When that happens] I say, “Okay, I’m just going to be myself” and that kind of works.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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Chris Butera is a voice actor specializing in commercial, eLearning and corporate narration reads. When he’s not helping clients achieve their goals, he's playing guitar and bass.