Orange Is the New Black and Girls are award-winning shows and they have two important things in common: neither show was built around a particularly big acting name, and both of the shows were cast by Jen Euston. Euston has worked in casting since working as a casting assistant on Law & Order in 1997 and has cast film and television projects throughout her career. In an interview with Cosmopolitan, Euston spoke about why she prefers not to cast stars and why she thinks there should be an Oscar category for Best Casting.
Euston confesses that she prefers to work on projects in which producers don’t demand that she cast stars. She explains, “I hate casting someone in a part just because they’re a star, and I try to avoid it at all costs. If they’re a star and they’re right for the part, that’s one thing. If you’re just hiring them because they bring money or viewers or whatever, that’s really hard for me to come to terms with because, for me, that’s not a creative thing, it’s more about the bottom line. I’ve been so lucky with both Girls and Orange Is the New Black because we cast the best people for the part. That’s what attracted me to the jobs, because they told me, ‘We don’t need any names for this.’ If I get approached by a project and they’re like, ‘Well, we need names,’ I’m like, ‘You probably need to find someone else, because I’m not going to be your girl and I’ll be resentful and you don’t want that.'”
Euston has won three Emmys — two for Best Casting for a Comedy Series (for Girls and Orange Is the New Black) and one for Outstanding Casting for a Miniseries, Movie or a Special for The Pacific. However, there is no equivalent Oscar category for Best Casting. For those whom deny the importance of casting directors, Euston says, “That they have to educate themselves on what a casting director’s role in a film is. Casting [happens] behind closed doors, that’s the whole thing. And it should be that way — it is private, and we need to keep it private because these are people’s lives and there are human beings involved. So it’s a very hard argument.” She then adds, “There’s a lot of creative energy and work being done by somebody assembling a cast in the right way and serving a director’s vision. Just like a costume designer does, or a set decorator does, or any of those jobs that all have Oscars — they show their director choices, just like we show our directors choices. It’s the same process, so the fact that we don’t get recognized doesn’t make any sense. It’s like, what’s the difference if a costume designer is showing you five different choices for the leading lady’s dress and us showing you five different choices for the leading lady? It’s contradictory.”