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Photo courtesy of Karlie Loland-Ringer.

‘Summer Camp’ Casting Director Karlie Loland-Ringer Talks Manifesting Her Casting Career, Working With the Hallmark Channel

Karlie Loland-Ringer is good at being an exception to the rule. For example, there is a narrative that kids who grow up in the entertainment industry get screwed up by it. Not her.

Or what about having to live in New York or LA to be a successful casting director? Again, that’s a negative. She lives and works in central Florida with her world-champion equestrian wife, Amanda, choosing the farm life over the bustle of the big city.

There’s also chatter that working in the Hallmark Channel made for TV movie world can get you ostracized for being involved in Hollywood’s schlockiest corner. Not Karlie, who was accepted into the Casting Society of America last year and cast her first CSA film, Summer Camp, right before the dual strikes that brought the industry to a halt.

That movie, which stars Diane Keaton, Kathy Bates, Eugene Levy, Josh Peck, Dennis Haysbert and Alfre Woodard, is highly anticipated counter-programming for the summer silly season, and hits theaters on May 31. Right before heading to Kentucky for Summer Camp‘s premiere, Loland-Ringer talked with us from her Florida home. We were joined by her chihuahua Jagger, one of four dogs she and Amanda own, along with 15 horses.

How did you get into casting in the first place?

I grew up in the industry, so it’s kind of always been my life. I think a lot of kids grow up wondering, “Okay, what am I going to be?” And then there’s the ones that know what they’re going to be. I was one of those.

The entertainment industry always really drew me in. I wanted to be an actress, like most kids. That’s the foundation that was laid, but then I realized that I liked what the people who were helping me get to that next step did.

I developed into more of an entrepreneurial, hands-on, go-getter, shark-type person, so when it came to the business side of things, I found it just came naturally. By that time, my parents had given me a great setup. I had the resources to be in the mix of the right people at the right time. So, while I worked very hard for what I have, I also realized that I’ve been very blessed with the resources all along the way, the right people in the right places at the right times. 

How did that manifest itself?

I started interning in my early teens doing scouting. I picked up a camera along the way, and I learned how to do headshots. I’ve always had my hands on a little bit of everything.

I was an agent for one of the largest commercial and lifestyle agencies in the state of Florida for quite a few years. I moved to New York for a while and did some interning with different fashion houses and things like that. Then a client of mine, when I was at the agency, had reached out to me about doing background casting on Hallmark films. I was like, “Okay, I don’t know what that’s all about,” but it just worked and everything was right. Then they said, “We can pay you a lot more money to come work for us instead.”

I had just gotten the bug for casting at that point. I had also met my wife around that time, which was interesting, because she has to live on a farm in a ranch-type setting, whereas, for me, it had always been a big city, New York, LA, and Tampa.

I also understood, “Okay, I guess we’re not moving a farm to the city, so how is Karlie going to figure this out?” At that point, I was ready to branch out on my own in casting and had built enough of a support system. That was around the time that COVID hit, so we were living in this new virtual reality.

I always say, “Okay, maybe that’s the one positive takeaway through what we collectively went through, is that casting can happen virtually now.” (Laughs) People who live in Texas can audition for projects out in LA. That’s the norm now.

It’s also what allowed my career to expand in the aftermath. Because I can be anywhere, and I get to travel with my wife all year long. So I moved to the country, and my career has never been better.

You said you got the bug for casting, but what was it specifically that snagged you? Because you have to love it to be in it.

Yeah. I like the idea of bringing a vision to fruition. It’s kind of like playing puppets with people. In casting, we don’t always get the final say, so I’m not going to pretend like that’s the case, but getting to piece something together and taking pride in that. I’ve always gotten gratification in that aspect.

When I was growing up doing auditions, I always paid attention to the nitpicky things of what the casting director wanted to see, the very precise details. I realized I could do that. I always felt I had something to offer.

You also mentioned Hallmark, and I’m sort of fascinated by that aspect of your career, the movies you did for that company. Because that genre gets a lot of ridicule, but also has a lot of fans, including my mother-in-law, whose TV is always tuned to the Hallmark Channel.

(Laughs) It’s interesting because, at this point in my career, I’ve worked with a lot of big names, you know, from Bradley Cooper to just randomly hanging out with the singer Pink, but I say Hallmark and everyone gets excited.

As much as casting directors don’t want to admit this, a lot of times the filmmakers already know who’s going to be in the movie, before they ever bring somebody like me on. They work with the same actors, so it can be kind of boring, but for me, those types of movies have been bread and butter money. I go in, I do the local and background casting, and it’s copy and paste, just as it is on the creative side because we already know there’s going to be a gala, we know somebody is going to fall in love, we know there’s going to be some kind of proposal, so I know what’s going to be expected of me.

The cool part is going into different markets and connecting with the locals in the small towns. You get all these quaint little fun, vintagey, cottagey, unexpected towns, and you’re getting to discover them as you’re making these films, which is exciting.

Summer Camp feels like a big jump forward for you.

Yeah, absolutely. It’s also my first project as a member of the Casting Society of America. So that, partnered with the caliber of this project, is cool. Being a CSA casting director is something I worked hard to get, putting in the hours and the time, and this project, as my first opportunity as a CSA casting director, is very exciting.

What piece of advice or wisdom would you give to an actor coming to audition for you?

Honestly, I would just say to be yourself, which I know sounds so cliché, but the way I see it is, you’re the product as the actor, so I’m gonna want to know that you’ve got a great personality, that you’re easy to get along with, that you’re fun. We don’t want to work with people who have attitudes, or who feel like they’re too big for the room or things of that nature.

If I had never spoken up as a young teen, I wouldn’t be where I am today, so be authentically who you are. There are a lot of things in life that can be taught. Being a teachable individual makes things a lot easier. If we want you bad enough we’ll advocate for you.

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