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Photo Courtesy of Jodi Angstreich.

Jodi Angstreich Talks Breaking into Casting, ‘Fleishman Is in Trouble’

Usually, when kids think about what they want to be when they grow up, they say things like police officer, firefighter, doctor, nurse, astronaut, actor or President of the United States. Casting director is seldom one of the options, and yet, that was Jodi Angstreich’s childhood.

The Florida native grew up a fan of movies, and that somehow turned into a career. Now, a few decades later, she is a two-time Emmy nominee for Casting. The first came in 2020 for Unbelievable, and last month she earned her second, alongside mentor Laura Rosenthal, for Fleishman Is in Trouble. She chatted with us from New York City.

Congratulations on your Emmy nomination.

Thank you. I mean, it’s such a weird time right now, [with] the nominations and the strike. So it’s sort of bizarre, but it’s super exciting.

I’m sure. Let’s start at the beginning. How did you get into casting in the first place?

I was a weird child who decided in like, sixth grade that I wanted to be a casting director. I told everybody I knew that I was going to be a casting director. I was into drama as a child, and around, like, puberty time, I knew I didn’t want to be an actor. I was in drama camp in sixth grade and, apparently, I felt like I needed to choose my life path at a very young age, I don’t know, but I knew that acting wasn’t for me anymore.

My mom was very big into watching old movies, and we would watch the credits and were always talking about the actors. I was very big into soap operas as a child, and I was gonna be a casting director for soap operas, that was 100 percent what I was going to do, even though I had no idea what that entailed.

How about when you found out what it entailed?

(Laughs) In high school, I called the Casting Society of America and asked what I should major in in college, and whoever answered the phone said, You can major in whatever you want. I thought, well, that’s not helpful, but they said I should just intern when I get out. [In] my sophomore year, I interned at a talent agency in South Florida. They mostly did extra work, body doubles, things like that. Commercials. The agent there encouraged me down the casting path. She said, “I think you’re right about this. You’d be good in casting.” So I said, “Yep, that’s what I’m gonna do.”

I talk to a lot of people, and usually, when I ask someone how they got into casting, there’s a long, convoluted story that has all these twists and turns in it that ends with them falling into it, whereas you are literally living your dream.

Totally. One hundred percent. I was very lucky that I was right because I really didn’t know what I didn’t know. I didn’t know what an audition was. I didn’t know what went into it. I didn’t know that you had to do deals. I didn’t know any of that. I was super lucky that I moved to New York right after college and got my first casting internship at Lynn Kressel Casting, which at the time was Law & Order and SVU, and they were doing the pilot for Criminal Intent. I knew my first day there, I just said, this is where I’m supposed to be. This is exactly what I wanted. I’ve also been super fortunate to work with amazing people. There are a lot of awful people in this industry, and I have somehow managed to not be in that fray. I always had amazing mentors, and from that first day with Lynn Kressel, they took me under their wing, and I’ve always had people who have treated me really well and seen this path for me too.

And now Laura Rosenthal is the most recent of those mentors, and you’re Emmy nominees together. For the second time. Was this one more rewarding than the last one?

Not to compare them, but Fleishman was much harder to cast. There was the source material, but also there were a lot of heads in the game. Working with the author and showrunner Taffy Brodesser-Akner, it was important to her to keep true to the book and to her characters. Also, for the main characters, Jessie Eisenberg, Lizzy Caplan, Adam Brody, we wanted that trio to be authentically Jewish, as much as we could. It always came down to, okay, we’re painting New York City, we’re painting a Jewish community, we’re painting these very distinct characters. Making sure that everybody fits well, and then living up to Taffy’s vision. There were also so many fans, people writing about the casting of it before we started casting it. So there definitely was some pressure there. It was trickier, to be sure.

Doubly rewarding, then.

Absolutely. Also, we had a lot of logistical challenges on this job. We shot a lot of this show in the winter in New York, and it takes place in the summer in New York. From a casting perspective, our deals were really tricky for the parts that weren’t the leads, because they would shoot, there were sometimes one-line roles that would shoot like one day in February and one day in April, and trying to make that happen. So there were a lot of logistical things that has nothing to do with creativity in casting that were hugely challenging.

Do you have audition advice for actors?

My number one piece of advice is more specifically to self tapes, but it can completely go to any audition: Try not to overthink. It’s self-sabotage, especially with self tapes, because you have too much ability to change things on a self tape. You could do 500 takes, whereas, in a live audition room, you wouldn’t get that opportunity. Watching from my actor friends who I’ve helped put on tape for this and that, the amount of overanalyzing is crazy. Usually the first take is the best. Go with your instinct. That’s my number one thing. But, then, that goes for life. Try not to overthink and just go with your instinct.

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