'When They See Us' Netflix Casting Director Shares Tips for Aspiring Actors


LOS GATOS, CA/USA - JULY 29, 2017: Netflix corporate headquarters and logo. Netflix specializes in and provides streaming media and video-on-demand online and DVD by mail. (Ken Wolter /

Netflix casting director, Aisha Coley ('When They See Us'), reveals her tips to landing a role in a Netflix series.

Several months ago, Project Casting shared the casting call breakdown for the lead roles in 'When They See Us'. Since then the series has become an award-winning drama and the cast members are known around the world. Related: The Beginner’s Guide to Acting Aisha Coley won an Emmy for her casting in the Netflix miniseries "When They See Us". The series centers around the Central Park Five and chronicles the lives of five young people who were charged for a crime they did not commit.

Netflix audition tips:

In a recent conversation with Awards Daily, Coley opens up about her experiences casting the Netflix series, shares some details about how the cast was discovered, and in the process, she reveals advice for aspiring actors. Ultimately, it comes down to two major points.:
  • Research the role
  • Have a good manager
  • Know your acting skillsets and use them

Research the Role

Coley explains it all starts with research. She says, “The first thing we started with was research. We researched the five young men to get an idea of them. People knew about the case but didn’t know them intimately – who they were, how they spoke, how they moved. Then, we started looking for the kids. We cast a wide net to really just bring together some good kids for the younger roles. After that, we started narrowing it down based on looks and so forth.”

Have a good talent manager

Jharrel Jerome LOS ANGELES - SEP 22: Jharrel Jerome at the Emmy Awards 2019: PRESS ROOM at the Microsoft Theater on September 22, 2019 in Los Angeles, CA - Image (Kathy Hutchins / Coley points to Jharrell Jerome who plays Korey Wise. Corey reveals, “He auditioned earlier on, but he was working on something that required him to have a beard at the time. He did a really good reading, but Ava really needed to see him without the beard because he was auditioning for young Korey. We waited, and his manager really stayed on it. She really gets a lot of credit here and really made sure he stayed on our radar. When he could shave the beard, he read for Ava in New York. When she saw him in the room, she realized maybe he could do both parts. He read both parts at the time. She sent me the tape, and he was amazing. He’s so talented and has a special quality that you see when he reads.” Related: How to get a talent manager

Use your acting skills in the audition

LOS ANGELES - SEP 22: Asante Blackk at the Primetime Emmy Awards - Arrivals at the Microsoft Theater on September 22, 2019 in Los Angeles, CA - Image (Editorial credit: Kathy Hutchins / When sharing advice on how to have a great audition, Coley uses Asante Blackk as an example, who plays Kevin Richardson in the show. She says, “The thing is to really know your craft and to be able to own it when you audition. When you go into auditions, each one is important. It’s important to show your best each time you walk in the room. Even if you don’t get this job, you may be under consideration for something else. Casting directors may remember you and bring you back for something else. Asante Blackk we read for another project before this one, and we remembered him for this. It’s just really important to make a great impression as well as keep studying and knowing your craft.”

Continue Reading:

‘Stranger Things’: How to Audition for a Speaking Role

How to audition for a speaking role on Stranger Things. Stranger Things is one of the most popular shows on television. Centering around a group...

‘Stranger Things’: What It’s Really Like to Audition for ‘Stranger Things’

'Stranger Things' actress Francesca Reale reveals what it's like to audition for the hit Netflix series. The third season of ’Stranger Things’ was one of the most-watched shows this Fourth of July. ‘Stranger Things’ season...

‘Riverdale’ Casting Director Reveals How He Spots Bad Acting

The casting director behind “Riverdale” shares tips for aspiring actors and audition tips. David Rapaport is a casting director known for working on popular shows including ‘Riverdale’, ‘The Flash’, ‘Arrow’, ‘Supergirl’ and 90210. He was...