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Photo courtesy of Heather Cowles.

Success Story: How Heather Cowles Booked an Andy Grammer Music Video and Got Upgraded to a Principal Role on ‘Joker: Folie à Deux’

Heather Cowles has been on a hot streak with musical roles. The actor got her start in community theater and has gone on to do commercials for big brands like Skittles and (now known as Vrbo), music videos and movies.

Cowles took time to share her stories on getting booked in Andy Grammer’s Damn It Feels Good To Be Me music video and working with Lady Gaga in Joker: Folie à Deux—where she got upgraded to a principal role and had a moment with the pop icon.

How did you decide to become an actor?

I did community theater for about four years here in Pasadena, California. One of the directors at the theater said, “You should start doing background.” So I did that right out of high school.

How did you first discover Casting Networks?

That’s actually a great question. I’m guessing it was because of the first agent I had back in 2010. I’m sure they’re the ones that said, “You should get on it.”

Tell me about your experiences booking the Andy Grammer video, Damn It Feels Good To Be Me, as well as going from background to principal in Joker: Folie à Deux. What was the process for each?

I would say for the music video … my agent sent me the audition through Casting Networks and the audition was [for] us to sing to one of his songs, but mouth it. They sent it off to casting, and I think it was like three or four days later [when] I heard back from them.

On the day of set, it was the song we danced to, and it was really fun because there were like 20 of us on-set. Andy Grammer and his wife were on-set in the same video, so they hung out with us and it was like one big happy family.

For the Joker sequel, we got a call from casting, and I think they found us on Casting Networks. They didn’t tell us that half. We got an email that says, “Hey, we have this movie called…” It was under the name Juliet instead of Joker to start with. They’re like, “We have a nine-day filming thing if you guys want to submit. You guys would be playing mental patients in music therapy class, and I think you guys would be great at it and it’s going to be smoke and all that fun stuff.” I wrote back and said, “Yeah, I’m in, but just not a lot of smoke.”

We started out as backgrounds in music therapy class, then the ADs came out on the first day we worked and said, “Change of plans, they’re actually going to record you guys with the earpieces in your ears.” We [got upgraded and] became principals the first day we worked on it. They had us record three different songs—all Judy Garland songs—and Lady Gaga is with us in the same class.

That was awesome. She hung around us the entire time. Then the best part—I think it was the fourth day out of nine days of being principal—I don’t think the director told her to do any of this, but I’m sitting here and she’s sitting there and she gets up, sings her song and we’re all standing and she comes over and hugs and kisses me while she’s singing her song.

She went by the name Stefani instead of Gaga. How she worded it was, “If it was Gaga, no one would pay attention to me and no one would talk to me.” Once she said “My name is Stefani,” everyone was talking to her. She participated in everything. It was just herself.

That’s awesome. What would you say helps someone succeed on Casting Networks?

I would say to be truthful in what you actually look like, and if you have any special abilities, be very truthful about those so you don’t get booked on something that you don’t know how to do. And always be on time to the auditions, even if it’s a self tape, or an in-person.

Actor Heather Cowles smiling in front of a blue background. Photo courtesy of Heather Cowles.

What are some other high-profile jobs that you’ve booked off of Casting Networks?

One was for It was a print job back in 2015. That was in-person. I think I was booked the day after the audition—I played Waving Girl. It was those three things on Casting Networks, and two commercials [both for Skittles] on Casting Frontier.

What’s some audition advice you can share?

Show up on time. Don’t be playing on your cell phone if you’re that person. Always listen when you’re in the room when they’re telling you directions, and don’t be scared if you don’t get the script right away. You’re looking at one of the boards they write all the lines on, so don’t be scared at first if you can’t figure all that out.

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.

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