- Dominic Tatrai
Katch University was lucky enough to hold a zoom call with Natasha Ward, the Vice President of Casting and Talent Relations at UrbanflixTV. Ward has been a casting director in Hollywood for the last sixteen years, working on projects such as Fat Albert (2004), Loco (2020), and Domino: Battle of the Bones (TBD), which features Snoop Dogg. Ward spoke about her time making it in L.A, her job as a casting director, and her fight for diversity in Hollywood. She also gave some advice for those looking to make it in the entertainment industry.
Ward originally made it in Hollywood by accident. A single-mother college student with aspirations to open her own restaurant, she came to L.A. to visit her sister on vacation. She took up an internship on the set of Fat Albert, and was eventually offered the job of assistant. From there, she eventually worked her way into being an independent casting director, until eventually landing the Vice President of Casting and Talent Relations gig at UrbanflixTV. She describes working with a streamer compared to being independent nice, as she now has a steady income and job security. She describes the goal of UrbanflixTV as an attempt at making media that everyone can see themselves reflected in.
When describing her role as a casting director, Ward says that she is in charge of “hiring the talent. [she doesn’t] even want to say actors, it could be dogs, it could be birds, it could be all kinds of stuff…” When describing her process of hiring people, she emphasizes the importance of not lying on your resume. “We really just hope you don’t lie, because then it’s a bad taste in our mouths for you. We will never call you in again.” When finding people, Ward also describes her network of people. She believes that networking is important, as she got one of her first jobs through someone she met at a party. For actors looking to get casted, she says to “be truthful to yourself. Don’t apologize for messing up [in interviews].”
Diversity is something especially important to Ward, as she faced discrimination in Hollywood for being a black single-mother. Despite this setback, she still manages to bring change to the projects that she works on. With diversity, Ward says that casting directors have the chance to make change. For example, she suggested people of color to play some of the leads in Loco, which was supposed to star two white people. She says that it is up to future filmmakers to add diversity when they can in their projects.
In terms of advice, Ward emphasizes hard work. “[In L.A.] no one knows you… you have to make your name in this city.” She also emphasizes listening, especially in entry level jobs and internships. “You have to be silent first. One thing I learned early is that you need to be more ‘the fly on the wall’ on those internships. You have to listen, absorb, take in, not necessarily speak up.” She says that she still uses techniques learned from her internship. She also places importance on not taking things personally. When people show anger, most of the time it is not necessarily for you. She also says to be ready for any opportunity to come your way. “You have to always be ready for the opportunity, you always have to be ready for the challenge.” As a final, important note to interns, she says it is important to never give up.
If you would like to see Ward’s work, her recent project, Loco, is available to rent on Amazon.