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Photo courtesy of Salem Rocabado.

Success Story: Salem Rocabado on Booking Blue Shield

Originally from Arizona, Salem Rocabado has been acting since being bitten by the bug in high school. Once shy and reserved, acting helped them come out of their shell and become confident in the characters they were embodying. After high school, Salem attended a performing arts college where the teachers prepared the students by teaching them how to get jobs in Los Angeles. As part of the preparation, the professors told the students about using Casting Networks. Salem graduated and found their first agent, signed up for Casting Networks, and is now sharing their success story with us!

Thanks for talking to me. That’s great to hear that you learned about Casting Networks in college.

Yes, they told us about Casting Networks, and after I graduated, I set up my Casting Networks profile. I set up my headshots and uploaded my reels, and I’ve just been submitting and auditioning. I really like the platform. It’s easy to use for self-submissions.

Can you tell me about your experience using Casting Networks?

This commercial for Blue Shield was one of my first bookings, which is very exciting. So yes, there’s been a lot of submitting and auditioning since and some callbacks, but this commercial was my first booking on Casting Networks, so it was a big one for me. I feel like I don’t often see commercials that explain what they’re talking about in an activist way. So when I was reading the description, and it talked about ending the bias in healthcare for women, I was like, immediately, yes, and so I submitted for it.

How was your experience on set?

It was awesome. Amandla Baraka, our director, cultivated an empowering and supportive environment on set for all of us. The message of this Blue Shield commercial was really impactful, and they asked us to share our own stories.

How did you feel about having to share on set?

We had really great women on set who talked about sensitive stories, but they wanted to share. They wanted to be vocal about it, so they ultimately were heard and listened to. They fought tooth and nail, so hearing their stories was great. That’s so empowering.

Is there anything interesting coming up for you?

I’m definitely getting new headshots. It’s important to keep up your casting profile, especially if you have short hair. I feel like headshots are very important. It took me a while to realize that headshots aren’t about how you want others to see you, but about who you are. Just reflect exactly the person you are in all of its glory and different compartments, and it took me a while to understand that, but eventually, I learned that it’s just good to be me.

That’s pretty wise. What would you say to your younger self as an actor?

Well, I think what held me back a lot —I’m non-binary— was what I saw on screen. A lot of it was tied to femininity and what I thought people told me what femininity was, especially growing up in a Mexican Christian household. I was always encouraged to be feminine and keep my hair long, so when I decided for myself, and talked to my agent, I was like, “You know, I really want to cut my hair short.” My hair was down to my waist. She’s like, “Yeah, go for it. That’s why we’re here together.” So I did it, and it was such an out-of-body experience getting those headshots back because it’s like, “Oh my God, this is who I have always envisioned who I wanted to be.”


Yes. It was like a self-discovery moment. Figuring out what my feminine looks like and what it could mean to me. After that mental shift, I was like, “OK, I’m ready to start redefining myself,” so I think headshots can be a blessing when you go for it. If you want to chop the hair, chop the hair.

So, you feel like there is a place for you on Casting Networks.

Yes, as a non-binary person. There are gender checks for any sort of role. Man, woman, non-binary, transgender. Casting Networks is really inclusive.

Before we wrap up, is there anything you’d like to share with the readers?

Just be human. Be yourself in every role. This isn’t just a character. This is you bringing life to another part of you. I once heard that if you make your work general, you’ll only reach the footlights, but if you make your work personal, you can reach people’s spirits, which kind of stuck with me. I try my best just to bring my humanity. And most importantly, the “NO’s” do not reflect your worth. You can’t take it personally.

Isn’t that easier said than done?

Once, I was sharing my frustrations after an amazing audition, and I hadn’t heard back from them. I was given a really great analogy. You go to a dealership looking for a baby blue bug and see four shades of blue. Baby blue, sky blue, robin blue, dark blue, but you came in with one color in mind. Even though they’re all beautiful and perfect, you keep returning to that baby blue bug. So just because you are a sky blue bug, it does not mean that you are any less than the baby blue, they just had something else in mind. I was like, “OK, OK.” You just can’t take it personally.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

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