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How to Cast ‘Real People’ in Your Projects

When the term “real people” is used in casting, it is not to slight actors (for those reading, we know you’re real people, too). It’s a way of describing a role geared toward non-actor folks with specific job skills or professions, such as a “real doctor,” “real construction worker” or “real contortionist,” as opposed to an actor who could play the required part.

Types of projects that may ask for non-actors can include promos for a business or product (e.g. medication), a public service announcement or political campaign, a company commercial highlighting its staff, documentaries requiring an expert opinion on a subject, and more.

Given that Casting Networks caters to actors, finding a non-actor for your project can sometimes be challenging. We’re here to help you navigate these unique waters to make sure you’re able to find what you’re looking for when the opportunity arises. Here’s how you can cast “real people” in your project, and how you can leverage the acting community to assist you.

How can I create a role for a “real person”?

To create a role for a “real person,” first create your project as you normally would. When you get to your Project Synopsis, specify that you will need “real people” in a specific role (e.g. a “real doctor” or “real nurse”). When you are indicating that you need “real people” for this specific role, be sure to explain why you need non-actors for this project (e.g. this is a PSA about the risks of smoking with real testimony and stories from ER doctors and nurses that have worked with patients with smoking-related conditions).

You also should specify that you are looking for a “real person” in your Role Description. It’s best to use the word “real” in the Role Name as well.

How will I know if they are really an actor?

This part will require a bit of sleuthing, but you can help simplify it with a few simple details. In your Role Description you will want to ask specific questions and highlight instructions in a required Submission Note. Always recommend that those interested submit their answers and anything else that would help them prove that they really are who you’re looking for. This will help you weed out the actors from the non-actor respondents.

You can reiterate this in the Submission Requirements section of your project information by requiring submissions and highlighting your instructions for your Submission Note. Make sure to check the “Display Submission Notes” box so you only see submits with Submission Notes to filter through the people you want to select, interview or audition.

How will a “real person” know to audition or pass their information along?

Although you will occasionally find actors on Casting Networks that do have the real-world skills and professional experience that you’re looking for, this is where the acting community comes in. You can ask actors in your Project Synopsis and/or Role Description to recommend non-actors that fit your project’s needs. Ask them to submit for your project with a Submission Note providing the name, email and phone number of a “real person” they recommend for the project (e.g. an actor who might know a “real doctor” or “real nurse”).

Take your location into consideration when looking for “real people” since that may also impact your search and results, depending on what you are looking for. For example, if you’re looking to hire a “real magician” but are in South Dakota, there might not be many around. However, if you are willing to provide travel and lodging for your niche non-actor from an area with more people with that profession or skill set, you will improve your chances of casting them in your project.

To wrap things up, let’s recap what you can do to increase your chances of finding a non-actor when looking for “real people” for your project:

  • Specify that you need to cast a “real person” and why in your Project Synopsis. Reiterate that you are looking for a “real person” in your Role Description.
  • Use the term “real” in your Project Synopsis and Role Name to drive the point home.
  • Ask job-specific or skill-specific questions in your Role Description. Require a Submission Note for their answers and anything else that can help prove who they are.
  • Reinforce your questionnaire by requiring submissions and stressing your Submission Note instructions in the Submission Requirements section. Be sure to check the “Display Submission Notes” box when filtering through your submits.
  • Ask actors in your Project Synopsis and/or Role Description for non-actor recommendations that fit the role. Have them provide the non-actor’s contact information in a Submission Note.
  • Always consider your location in relation to the “real person’s” profession or skill set. You may need to provide travel and accommodation to attract certain niches outside your area.


Whether you’re working on a PSA, company promo or a docuseries, you now have the tools for casting a “real person” for your projects. All that’s left is to put our tips to work by logging into Casting Networks, creating your project and casting a non-actor today!

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