Casting Networks® continues to spotlight female trailblazers in the casting industry who uplift, educate and improve the entertainment landscape as a whole. Casting is a pivotal process in storytelling, putting together the worlds we see onscreen, and consequently influencing how we see people offscreen. There are countless women in casting who go above and beyond to ensure proper representation in television, film and theater projects. Please join us in celebration of all the powerhouse professionals working behind-the-scenes.
Karlee Fomalont, CSA, is a 2-time Artios Award Nominee and graduate of NYU Tisch School of the Arts, where her acting training made for a seamless transition into casting. She began her career at CBS Primetime NY and ABC Primetime NY, then started working independently on projects such as Baz Luhrmann’s Netflix series “The Get Down,” Steven Spielberg’s “The Post” and Tamara Jenkins’ “Private Life” (both for which the casting team was nominated for an Artios Award for Outstanding Achievement in Casting). Karlee has worked with Rori Bergman for over 6 years, with credits including “Yearly Departed” (Amazon), “Power Book III: Raising Kanan” (Starz), “Run the World” (Starz), “Living With Yourself” (Netflix), “Love Life” (Netflix) and “The Good Cop” (Netflix). Film credits include J. Blakeson’s “I Care a Lot,” Charlie Kaufman’s “I’m Thinking of Ending Things,” Nicole Holofcener’s “The Land of Steady Habits,” among many others. Karlee also casts short films and features independently, including Amazon Studios’ feature film “I’m Your Woman” starring and produced by Rachel Brosnahan. She was born and raised in Los Angeles, and currently resides in New York City.
Read on as the NYC-based talent shares her journey and wisdom.
On breaking into casting:
“While I was a senior at NYU Tisch Drama, Michal Zecher (then a CD, now a manager) helped me get an internship at CBS Primetime Casting for pilot season. I was interested in breaking into the business side of the industry in a position where I could put my acting training to use. Until I met Michal, I had no idea casting was even a job I could have! That internship got me hooked. From there I freelanced as a Casting Assistant, meeting a series of wonderful mentors along the way, eventually leading me to Rori Bergman. She took a chance on me to work with her on The Get Down, Baz Luhrmann’s Netflix series. Six years later I’m still with Rori, and feel so lucky to have found a casting ‘home’ where I get to work on creatively fulfilling, high-level, projects with creatives who were some of the people that made me want to get into the business in the first place.”
Her advice for those looking to start a career in casting:
“Come to the dark side! There are so many free and accessible ways to learn these days. You can listen in on Clubhouse chats, watch Zoom talkbacks, and IG Live Q&As about the business. Even if they’re intended for actors, you can learn a ton as a casting professional through those. CSA is also working very hard on their training and education program, and just launched their inaugural mentorship program.”
“The other advice I’d give is to start developing your own sensibility, taste, and an eye for great performances. Watch a ton of movies, new TV shows, see theater, stay up to date on as much current content as possible. Look up the actors you love from those projects and look up who casts them. Familiarize yourself with agents and agencies. It’s amazing how much you can learn from trolling on IMDbPro and reading Deadline every day. Having a reference point for actors, agencies, and how they play into the current market is a skillset that takes work to develop. Casting really is a craft.”
How Karlee has kept us inspired during the pandemic:
The CSA member has been volunteering her time to both teach actors and give back to the community. “Giving back is super important to me, especially this year while we’re all searching for connection and community,” she told us. “As an actor, I was terrified of Casting Directors. They felt untouchable and scary, like the Illuminati. I want to turn that narrative around and share all of the valuable things I’ve learned from the other side of the table. We’re not inaccessible, we are allies in the process, and I want to help actors feel supported and really understand that dynamic.”
“A perk of pandemic times is that access has really increased, between podcasts, Clubhouse rooms, IG Live chats and Q&As, so there’s a ton of free panels and discussions at actors’ fingertips,” she adds. “I really love demystifying the casting process in fun, accessible ways. I also love participating in CSA’s community outreach programs, such as Meals for Monologues and open calls for underrepresented communities as a way to meet new actors.”
Fomalont continued her charity work this year as well. “I organize Team Casting every year for Covenant House NY’s Stage & Screen Sleepout to raise money for young people experiencing homelessness,” she said. “Last year we raised over $20,000! So there are a lot of ways to give back and stay involved, and represent all of the good our community stands for.”