We had the good fortune of connecting with Ramani Leah and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Ramani, what do you attribute your success to?
I think when it comes to a service that offers advice on a particular topic, it’s important that the “advice-givers” be from people who directly come from professional experience. I had been hearing from so many actors who were confused by the conflicting advice they had received from people who were… not in casting. Conflicting information like this makes an already confusing industry that much more unclear. It’s not helpful for actors and it’s certainly not helpful for casting directors. I wanted to give actors a chance to learn straight from “the source” and allow them to create an acting reel with a casting director’s mind behind it.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I think people strongly underestimate the difficulty of a casting career. It’s no secret that casting directors are undervalued and under-appreciated. From being left out of an Oscar category, to being thrown into a union with transpo, CDs and associates are grossly misrepresented. Casting directors work directly with the director, showrunner, studio execs and EPs to help craft arguably the most important aspect of a TV or film project. Yet some people would describe us as “below-the-line” (which is false). Casting directors not only require an extensive knowledge of working actors, but they must also know all of the up-and-coming actors, understand the craft of acting, have impeccable text analysis skills, a stamina to work long hours (including weekends and sometimes even holidays), the desire to learn the ropes as an assistant–an incredibly demanding job that pays very little, and the ability to seamlessly cast multiple projects at a time while constantly taking pay cuts and asking for favors. You have to do this because you love the art of casting and because you love actors. It can be a frustrating experience if you’re in this for anything else.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Some of my favorite places are on the outskirts of LA: Malibu, Westlake Village, Manhattan Beach, etc. I’m a water girl so whenever I’m in charge of an itinerary, you can be sure a beach or lake will be involved. One of my favorite things to do is have a long sunset dinner in a slow moving pontoon boat. We pick up some yummy dinner, head out to Ventura, and talk/eat/gaze at the extravagant houses that line the Ventura canals. A day trip to Santa Barbara for salt cave yoga + dinner at Lark would also be in the books.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
The fuel behind the Casting Director’s Cut came from multiple conversations with casting directors who I adore and admire. We talked about our goals and what we had hoped actors would gain out of creating their reel with a CD. Conversations sparked new ideas which ignited new passions (including a great deal of giving back via donating a portion of class proceeds to charity). I am forever grateful to this admiral group of casting directors, artists and friends; namely Becky Silverman, Jessica Sherman, Erica Bream, Mike Page, Cara Chute Rosenbaum & Lindsey Weissmueller.