Casting Director Leah Daniels-Butler on Casting Sessions, Diversity and Her “Life Lessons” for Actors

“I think the most fun moments are the ones that happen in casting sessions. When you actually see the words come alive by actors breathing life into them.” – Leah Daniels Butler

Casting director Leah Daniels Butler has worked in both film (Precious, Lee Daniels’ The Butler) and television (Empire, Star), and has a lot of experience casting actors from all levels of experience. In a conversation with Thrive Global, Daniels-Butler speaks about her experience casting diverse projects and the best advice she can provide to actors.

When asked about interesting moments in her career, Daniels-Butler explains, “I think the most fun moments are the ones that happen in casting sessions. When you actually see the words come alive by actors breathing life into them. Also, never really knowing who is going to get the job for a particular role. I remember being shocked when Bryshere Gray was cast on Empire because he had literally no experience. He was such a raw talent and he got the job over much more experienced actors. But now I can’t imagine anyone else playing his role.”

One of the aspects that Daniels-Butler feels that she is contributing to is increased representation on screen, which comes from the diverse projects that she is casting. She says, “I believe that is done with the types of projects, I cast. It’s reflective of everything that is current and going on in the world today. I try to cast actors that represent that.”

Regarding her best “life lesson” that she can pass on to others in the entertainment industry, Daniels-Butler’s advice follows the “golden rule” very closely:

“Always be kind or nice to the people you meet in this business, from the P.A’s to the extras.. you never know who they could become. They could be the very person that hires or signs your check.   I’m always kind to people, no matter who or what business they are in, but someone I know, very famous (who shall remain nameless) once told an actor that they should give up acting because they weren’t very good. That actor went on to become an A-list actor (also, remaining nameless) LOL… He saw the other very famous person who told him to give up acting and said you don’t remember me do you, of course, he didn’t and then he proceeded to tell him the story. The other famous person was left with egg on his face.”

About Author

In college, overachiever Christopher McKittrick double-majored in Film and English because he loves to read, write, and watch movies. Since then Chris – who was born and raised on Long Island, New York and currently lives in Queens – has become a published author of fiction and non-fiction, a contributor to entertainment websites, and has spoken about literature, film, and comic books at various conferences across the country when he’s not getting into trouble in New York City (apparently it’s illegal to sleep on street corners...) For more information about Chris, visit his website here!

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