Lizzo, “Drag Race” and “Queer Eye” Casting Directors on Authenticity

Thought-provoking and positive stories resonate with audiences. That’s what this year’s Emmy-nominated casting directors were looking for in Outstanding Casting for a Reality Program when casting their respective shows.

To get these positive stories, honesty and authenticity were key. Together, these series helped tell rich and diverse stories.

“RuPaul’s Drag Race”

How does the reigning reality TV champion “RuPaul’s Drag Race” raise the bar with each new season of the show?

“The queens themselves are always raising the bar,” says the show’s casting director Goloka Bolte.

The search for America’s drag superstar is a year-round process. Bolte explains, “We’ve ‘formally’ cast the show for about eight to 10 weeks between the casting announcement and when the final tape submissions are due, but we’re always on the lookout for new talent. Throughout the year I tag Queens on TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, watch drag shows, collect recommendations and keep a running list of who might be ready to apply next season.”

Casting the show requires an entire village, from RuPaul to the producers to the show’s casting directors Adam Cook and Michelle Redwine. Everyone is actively involved in the process. It’s not just about celebrating diversity and inclusivity. Bolte: “We always want to cast queens who not only reflect the actual appearance of the world, but also have a meaningful story to tell.”

Last season, the show broke new ground for transgender visibility, with a record-breaking five queens coming out as trans during the season. The queens who have shared their vulnerability throughout the season at the Werk Room is something Bolte says she is so proud of.

“As the queens discuss social and personal experiences like coming out trans, relationships with families and different parenting while creating this beautiful sisterhood, they inspire a young generation of fans and show the importance of self-love and being true to your authentic self.” themselves.”

“top chef”

Similarly, the casting team for Top Chef prides itself on looking for chefs who have “disparate stories, journeys and origins,” says casting director Samantha Hanks.

Ron Mare is SVP of Casting at Magical Elves, the company that oversees casting for the show. Mare admits that finding the next top chef gets harder each year and says the level of talent he sees during the casting process is high, with the drive and passion for success being the key motivators.

Mare says: “The chefs who go on the show want to go on the show and compete. It’s not necessarily about getting in and winning a title. It’s about them being able to prove something to themselves.”

“Queer Eye”

Netflix’s “Queer Eye” casting is becoming increasingly difficult for casting director Danielle Gervais. Every season she asks herself, “What have we done already? What are the incredible stories we’ve already told? And then it’s like, ‘What haven’t we done and where haven’t we gone?’”

The show’s final season was filmed in Texas, and the upcoming season will be set in New Orleans. When it comes to finding the show’s next location to send the Fab Five, according to Gervais, they’re looking for a city that “feels rich in culture and diversity and probably needs the message.”

Gervais believes the show’s success stems from audiences wanting publication and also finding familiarity with the stories. She says: “You can turn on the TV, watch a story and at the end of the day you can laugh, cry and see from start to finish this incredible journey of a fellow human being who may not be like you. but who can appreciate what they went through.”

“Lizzo takes care of the big grrrls”

Lizzo’s reality show about finding dancers to accompany her on tour was a hit with TV Academy voters and garnered six nominations. Casting director Lynne Spillman always knew the show would resonate. Aside from Lizzo being a hitmaker, Spillman says, “I loved meeting the girls, every interview I’ve had touched me, but I never imagined how good it would look on stage.” , when all these girls meet and everyone will be together with their stories.”

“Love on the Spectrum”

Laura Ritchie says the casting process for Netflix’s “Love on the Spectrum” differs from the traditional casting process because it’s a sensitive approach that requires time and care. Ritchie says, “It’s very collaborative between the production team, every contribution is appreciated. Director and co-creator Cian O’Clery and I have been working closely on casting and development for over three months.”

Ritchie adds that when they cast for the series, they’re never looking for someone who fits a specific mold.

“The autism spectrum is diverse and complex. It’s important for people to understand that no neurodiverse person is the same,” she says. “She’s such a pleasure to meet and you know right away viewers will feel the same way about her. The most valuable quality that each participant shares is the ability to always remain unequivocally himself.” Lizzo, “Drag Race” and “Queer Eye” Casting Directors on Authenticity

Charles Jones

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