‘UnREAL’ Casting Director Barbara Fiorentino: “Having that ability to weave comedy into drama is so specific, and a lot of people can’t do it”

UnReal Casting Director

“I kind of had a bee in my bonnet about air space being taken up by real people when there are wonderful actors out there who needed jobs” – Casting Director Barbara Fiorentino

Lifetime’s UnREAL won over audiences with it’s clever takedown of reality television shows like The Bachelor — including just how manipulative the creative teams behind those types of programs can be. One of the creative talents who has helped shape UnREAL is casting director Barbara Fiorentino. In a profile on her work from Deadline, Fiorentino details how her work on UnREAL allows her to strike back against reality television and why it’s so important for her to find actors who aren’t big names for the series.

Fiorentino admits that casting UnREAL gives her the opportunity to somewhat strike back at the glut of “reality” programming on television, which Fiorentino points out reduces the amount of work available for actors. She says, “I kind of had a bee in my bonnet about air space being taken up by real people when there are wonderful actors out there who needed jobs.”

Part of the challenge of Fiorentino’s job is that she needs to cast actors who can pull off enough of a anonymous look so that audiences won’t recognize them as actors. She explains, “[The viewer] might remember that they saw them on something, but they’re also the kind of actors that can embody characters in such a way that you forget the other roles that they’ve played.” On top of that, the actors have to be adept at both comedy and drama, with Fiorentino adding, “Having that ability to weave comedy into drama is so specific, and a lot of people can’t do it. If you don’t have that in this show, you run the risk of losing an entire layer of the piece.”

One example is Shiri Appleby, who plays TV producer Rachel Goldberg on the series. Fiorentino points out that Appleby got the part by simply being so good for the material that she had to be hired. She recalls, “She fought for this part, and did so with zest and passion. She gave no one a choice. I’ve found in my career that when roles are this well written, it’s almost more challenging to find the right people to do them justice. But that’s exciting. It’s like putting a puzzle together.”

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