Ask the expert: Casting Director Tiffany Little Canfield

As a casting director with The Telsey Office, Tiffany Little Canfield (B.F.A. Drama ’00) has cast everything from commercials to Broadway shows, and from television shows to operas, including projects like “This Is Us,” “Mary Poppins Returns” and “Fosse/Verdon.”  

Her recent work has included casting for the film version of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “In The Heights”; the upcoming live-action version of “The Little Mermaid”; and the new Hulu comedy series “Only Murders in the Building,” with Steve Martin, Martin Short and Selena Gomez. 

Canfield discovered her career somewhat unexpectedly while working as an assistant on Baz Luhrmann’s production of “La Bohème” on Broadway, shortly after landing in New York City. In both her work as a casting director and during her time as a UNCSA student, she says, she has found one of the most critical aspects in determining an artist’s future to be when they realize there is, or could be, a place for them in the industry.

Here, she taps into her expertise (and experience as a School of Drama directing student) to share some quick advice for those just getting started in their careers — particularly during the pandemic — and, perhaps, in search of their place.

Q: If you could tell UNCSA students one thing to be aware of as they begin looking for work, what would it be?

Say “yes” to everything — “yes” to web series, “yes” to play readings, “yes” to going to see that independent film.

Q: What do you look for when you’re considering new actors for a role? Is there any particular skill or trait that stands out?

Confidence! And a strong artistic point of view. I love when a new actor comes in to meet me and isn’t seeking my validation, but is working with me more as a peer or colleague.

Q: What's the biggest change you’ve seen in the industry as the result of COVID-19, and how can new graduates prepare for it?

The biggest change has been the use of virtual auditions and callbacks. I’m not sure how or when things will go back to normal. I’d say right now, the best investment you can make is good internet and an Ethernet cable.

Q: If you could go back to your time as a new School of Drama graduate, is there any advice you’d give yourself?

No one’s path is the same and there isn’t one definition of success. Find your bliss!

by Corrine Luthy

This article appeared in the 2021 issue of Scene.

July 20, 2021