SHOW ME YOUR TEETH and other advice from
Boston’s own ANGELA PERI
Having walked through the doors of Boston Casting for auditions at both the old
location on Boylston and the newer one at 129 Braintree Street, I can tell you first
hand, there is something different about its director Angela Peri in her way of
handling actors for what has to be the most humbling (did I say intimidating) part
of the actor’s job, that would be casting. She is so warm and welcoming you almost
forget you are auditioning.
It is fun to visit Boston Casting because you don’t feel like you are going to be
“cast” off even if you don’t get or even come close to getting the job. Angela,
after all was an actress herself, with dreams of being an Italian film star like
her favorite, Anna Magnani, the illegitimate child of Marina Magnani and an unknown
father, often said to be from Alexandria, Egypt, but whom Anna herself claimed was
from the Calabria region of Italy (although she never knew his name). So she and
Anna understand rejection.
Oh, Angela has her advice on what actors need to do. She knows who can do the job
and who can’t but to her there’s more at stake than the job. This is her life, you
see, so being nice is important.
Angela started Boston Casting, Inc. twelve years ago. After acting adventures in
Italy, a casting job for CINEMA PARADISO, a stint as a stand-up comic, and working
for a top-casting agency in Boston, Angela decided that she wanted to start her
own business. Her first impulse was to start a restaurant but Angela settled with
a casting agency because she figured it did not require a big overhead. A natural
“people person” and a hard worker, Angela Peri jumped right in!
SALLY: What are your main areas for Casting?
ANGELA: Commercials, Industrials, Reality shows, Voiceovers, Feature Films
SALLY: How did you develop those relationships? Did you have to go around to advertising
ANGELA: The funniest thing is when I opened this business I was sick of being an
actress and I realized that I put myself in the position of doing the same thing,
but, instead of running around with my photo I run around with the Boston Casting
promo instead…We, as Casting Directors, have to take our stuff around just like
the actors and promote ourselves.
SALLY: So do you find that it helps you to have a niche?
ANGELA: I wouldn’t say “niche”. I built the business on honesty and integrity and
that’s how I live my life and that’s how I built this business. And I think that
“stick-to-it-ness” has been my staying power…. People know I’m honest and that I
deliver a good package and I give them a good price and I think that that’s a lot
of the game in business.
SALLY: So do you have to bid for a job?
ANGELA: Yeah, they shop around...they call all the casting directors and get prices.
But luckily we have a situation here in this city where we have ‘fair competitiveness’,
an open competitiveness where we are all around the same price.
SALLY: Do you pursue films?
ANGELA: Sometimes. But I like to feel we are at a point in the business where it
comes to us. I don’t have to chase it like I used to. We’re busy.
SALLY: Now, since we don’t have agents in this area, are casting agents here kind
of acting like they are our “agents”?
ANGELA: No, that’s not true at all. I don’t represent actors at all. I don’t pretend
to. I don’t guide anyone. I represent the producer. My job is to give producers
a finished product of what he is going to be able to use in his shoot. Choices.
Good choices for him.
They can go to my website at www.bostoncasting.com. It breaks down the casting director
vs. agent issue. It’s always been an issue especially here in Boston because we
don’t have agents.
People are really confused by that. They (actors) constantly come to my office and
ask ‘how much does it cost to be with Boston Casting?’ We get that over and over
and we say, ‘It costs you nothing’-and they almost don’t believe me. They think,
‘what’s the catch?’ There is no catch. You just have to send us your photo (headshot/resume)
and then you go into the file and if something comes up that we think you are right
for, we’ll give you a call.
SALLY: How big are your files?
ANGELA: 13,000 last count.
SALLY: Are those on-line?
ANGELA: No, not on-line. That includes real people, kids, ethnic and I’d say, out
of that, there are about 700 union actors.
SALLY: Do you work weekends?
ANGELA: Yes, we are open Saturday for classes. And we usually come in and work to
keep up with the filing!
SALLY: Do you have favorite actors that you keep calling back because you know their
work, and you know it’s consistent so it makes the job easier?
A|NGELA: Yes, there is a core of actors who can do absolutely anything. Jerry Kissel
is one of them. I love having him around because he’s entertaining. I can throw
any script at him at any moment and he can handle it and shine with it. But every
single session I try to bring in at least five new people so then I’m always seeing
the new people in town or somebody that I haven’t seen in awhile-bring them back
because I would never keep it to just the same people because that’s not fair. (To
illustrate her loyalty, even after death, Angela told me at an earlier meeting,
that she “even keeps a ‘deceased file’ because she ‘just cannot bear to throw their
SALLY: Do you ever get gifts from actors?
ANGELA: I get really mad when I do…
SALLY: For an actor to know is there too much attention vs. too little attention
from an actor? I mean do you find that it pays off if actors are sending you the
new resume and headshot consistently? Does that make you pay any more attention
SALLY: And too much attention?
ANGELA: This is a funny story… I had one actress who sent a small pizza box with
200 pictures of herself. I had met her, she was an actress out of Connecticut, so
I said, ‘you know, Connecticut is not that far. If I can use you…send me a couple
of pictures’. So she sent me 200 pictures of herself, which was annoying. So I called
her up and asked her, ‘what do you expect me to do? I’m not going to spend the postage
to mail them back to you so either you come back and pick them up or I’m going to
trash them because I only really need 4-6 pictures at any one time in this office.’
She was so embarrassed. She called me up. She just got overexcited.
There are certain producers that can’t afford casting so we do “picture pulls” so
I love being able to give them a hard copy rather than a photo copy so I like having
6 copies of everybody in this office…And it is time consuming and tedious to have
the interns go through… We had to recently go through everybody in the files and
pull out the pictures from 1993, the pictures that were 10 years old.
SALLY: Does it make a difference with a (certain kind of) headshot?
ANGELA: I’ve always liked it ¾. Even in the 80’s I liked it ¾ because I feel like
it’s just “body language”. It gives me more. It shows me. Because I never know what
I’ll get when the head comes in. And you got to smile in your picture, too. I don’t
know why people think they shouldn’t smile because it makes them look more dramatic.
It’s all baloney! You need nice teeth in this business! If you don’t have nice teeth,
get them fixed before you start because you are wasting everybody’s time. I won’t
bring in someone who sends me a picture and they are not smiling until I meet them
because I’ve had that mistake of sending this guy that didn’t smile, bringing him
in and sure enough as soon as he opens his mouth his teeth were all crooked.
They were a mess! No matter how good of a read he was he wasn’t going to work. He
wasn’t going to be likeable and appealing on tape. So since then anyone who doesn’t
smile they are shooting themselves in the foot with me because I have to wait ‘till
I can meet you beforehand, which is probably never, in order for you to get in here.
So you gotta show me your teeth in your headshot. Even in Polaroid’s I make people
smile. Because if you have nice teeth it’s an asset. Show them off!
SALLY: So, okay, nice teeth. What about having your eyes done? And the face lifted
and all of that?
ANGELA: No, we love characters. Boston is made up of characters.
SALLY: But in general, do you think there is any shift in the business that way?
ANGELA: No, not in Boston. Boston is a character town. We want you the way you are.
And Angela, we want you the way YOU ARE!
To learn more about Boston Casting, Inc., check out their web site at www.bostoncasting.com.
Sally Fay Cottinghan worked with the ABC/Hearst production team
that launched A&E in NYC. She has acted in major motion pictures, independent
films and television. She has written, produced and directed 2 shorts, PATTY’S
FANTASY and WATERTALK, and is currently working on her third film.
By Staff reports
Mon Aug 18, 2008, 08:50 AM EDT
Boston Casting, the
region’s largest casting company, recently
announced plans to open a satellite Media
Performance Institute in Middleboro at The
Burt Wood School of Performing Arts. The
MPI launched acting classes for children
in May, and the response was so overwhelming,
Boston Casting Inc. owner Angela Peri has
decided to offer satellite campus classes
to teenagers, according to company representatives.
The Media Performance Institute provides
training and guidance to actors and aspiring
actors of all ages, as well as to lawyers,
professional athletes and business professionals
who to enhance their careers in media performance
and public speaking.
According to Lorna Brunelle, owner and artistic
director of The Burt Wood School of Performing
Arts and a member of the Boston Casting
staff, the partnership is a win/win for
Boston Casting and the community.
“It is often difficult for South Shore families
to commute to Boston for ongoing training,”
Brunelle said. “By creating a studio in
Middleboro, we can be more accommodating
to residents of the South Shore and Rhode
Island. In addition, Boston Casting will
have greater access to the large pool of
talent here on the South Shore.
“This new addition to the Media Performance
Institute at Boston Casting provides all
the Boston benefits without the city commute.”
Participants in classes at the Media Performance
Institute will have the same resume credit
and they’ll be working with the same teachers
as in Boston. In addition, interested participants
can become registered in Boston Casting’s
talent files to be considered for professional
Established in 1991, Boston Casting has
since become the premiere casting company
in New England, having worked with such
directors as Errol Morris, the Farrelly
Brothers, David Mamet and Rob Reiner. With
more than 3,000 square feet of office and
studio space, Boston Casting is the largest
casting house in the greater Boston area.
Boston Casting specializes in casting feature
films, commercials and reality television
shows, for principal roles as well as extras.
“We are thrilled to work with Lorna Brunelle
and The Burt Wood School of Performing Arts
to build relationships on the South Shore,”
“The caliber of talent we have seen in our
region is astounding and I look forward
to working with Lorna to provide further
acting training and guidance for South Shore
Peri, a member of the prestigious Casting
Society of America, founded Boston Casting
in 1991 after spending five years in Italy
acting and casting for films, including
the Academy Award winning “Cinema Paradiso.”
Through Boston Casting, Peri and co-owner
Lisa Lobel have cast hundreds of commercials,
corporate videos, music videos, theater
productions and feature films such as “The
Next Karate Kid,” “Celtic Pride,” “Moonlight
Mile,” “Legally Blonde,” “Fever Pitch,”
“Stiffs,” “The Game Plan,” “Pink Panther
Part Deux,” “The Bachelor 2,” “Real Men
Cry,” “Mall Cop”, “The Proposal”, and is
currently in production, for “The Edge of
Darkness,” starring Mel Gibson and Robert
De Niro. Some recent television credits
include, “The Apprentice,” “The Biggest
Loser,” “The Sopranos,” “Fear Factor,” “For
Love or Money,” and “Beauty and the Geek.”
Boston Casting maintains an online database
of more than 20,000 actors, models and extras.
The Media Performance Institute in Middleboro
will be offering six-week sessions from
September through June for children ages
5 through 18. “Acting for Kids-Skill Set
A, On-Camera Acting” will be offered on
Thursday evenings from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.
for ages 5 through 8 and from 6 p.m. to
8 p.m. for ages 9 through 11. “Acting for
TEENS” will be offered on Wednesday evenings
from 5:15 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. for ages 12-18.
Hannah Record, age 15, of Los Angeles, Calif.,
has studied at Boston Casting Inc. and at
The Burt Wood School of Performing Arts
with Lorna Brunelle during her summers on
Cape Cod. When asked how she felt about
the teen classes being added to the fall
Boston Casting/Burt Wood fall line up she
said, “I am very excited about Boston Casting
coming to Burt Wood. It almost feels like
Hollywood has come to the East Coast. The
Burt Wood location is real convenient for
families. Studying with Miss Lorna at Boston
Casting helped me learn how to take on the
pressure of an audition - the class relieved
my cold reading and audition stress. I’ve
trained in L.A. and at Boston Casting and
Burt Wood, and they both approach acting
the same way.”
For further information, tuition rates and
to register, visit www.mediaperformanceinstitute.com
or call Rachelle Coury, director of the
Media Performance Institute at Boston Casting,
at (617) 787-7400. For directions to the
Burt Wood School of Performing Arts visit