When CBS’s “Guiding Light” soap opera casting director Rob Decina came to audition UM students for the show, Holly Warren knew it might be her chance to become a star.
Decina and Alan Locher, associate director of public relations for CBS, came to Cosford Cinema to audition over a hundred young people from South Florida colleges in late September.
Of these students, they picked eight to come back for a screen test with Guiding Light’s current stars.
Sophomore English major Holly Warren, who had done live theater but no camera work, got called back to do a cold reading on camera with actor Marty West, who plays Shane on the show.
“We tried the college casting idea out in April with ‘As The World Turns’, Locher said. “The actors really enjoyed working with the students. They rarely get to do any live work, and they enjoyed coaching and giving advice.”
So CBS decided to try it again with “Guiding Light”.
On Nov. 4, they announced on CBS’s “The Early Show” two finalists from each of the five schools where auditions were held.
Warren found out she was a finalist while watching T.V. that morning.
“My roommates jumped on me and were screaming and I couldn’t stop laughing for some reason. It was really exciting,” Warren said.
Next, Warren, who wants to be a professional actor in movies and on Broadway, was sent to New York City for a live audition on the “The Early Show.”
Two students auditioned each day on the show for a week. Holly’s audition was on Friday, which gave her a chance to see how everyone else did.
She says she was nervous.
“I’ve never watched a soap opera in my life, so I kind of laughed when friends urged me to go to the Guiding Light casting call on campus. I remember when I was younger I used to say that I would never be on a soap opera because I thought they were pretty cheesy, but it’s weird how feelings can change when you get the actual opportunity,” Warren said. “I’ve always thought television would be fun, but I’m more of the comedy type rather than the dramatic soap opera type.”
Warren auditioned by performing a scene with Ricky Paul Goldin, who plays Gus on the show.
“He was so laid back and cool to work with. He went over the script with me as many times as I needed and made me feel so comfortable,” Warren said.
Decina was looking at college students with strong characteristics that could add some energy to the show.
“I think what you have to have in a situation like this, that is an open call, is you’ve got to let your personality come out,” Decina said. “If you can come out about what you’re passionate about, I think that’s great, too. I think people in television and people like me are always looking to put personable people on television.”
“Personality, charm and passion- those are good things to look for,” Decina said.
Viewers then voted for the two finalists they thought would be best on the show. The viewers chose the two students from the University of Georgia, who will appear on the show in the summertime. Although Holly did not get voted onto the show, she did well and felt good about her performance.
“The people I was up against were all really talented, but what this competition really was about what getting as many votes as possible,” Warren said. “I know now that I should have campaigned a lot more!”
Actor Marty West proved Warren’s strength.
“Auditioning isn’t easy- just showing up is a good thing because it shows that you have the will power and the guts to do something like this,” Warren said.
Warren almost didn’t go to the audition at all, but now is glad she did.
“I found out about the audition from some friends- I thought, you know, what the hell, I’ll give it a shot,” Warren said. “The worst I could do is not get it and I wasn’t expecting much out of it at the time.”
Warren says she made several valuable connections throughout the experience and UM students will see her on TV sooner or later.
“I’ve been in touch with a few of the producers and directors that I worked with up in New York and other plans could be in the works,” Warren said. “I’m sure a lot more is to come from this whole auditioning process.”
“I’m not sure when you’ll be seeing me on television, but hopefully there won’t be anymore live auditions to get me there,” Warren said.
“The best thing any young person aspiring to be an actor can do is study your craft,” Locher said. “If you love it, continue to get as much training as possible.”
For now, Warren is content to do just that. She plans to finish her studies and continue improving her acting skills.
“I’m taking a lot out of this experience and waiting for the next thing to come along,” Warren said. “Of course it’s a bummer that I didn’t win this role and couldn’t take another trip back up to New York City, but I’ve put myself out there and got the guts to do an audition on a nationwide live television show.”
Jaclyn Lisenby can be contacted at j.lisenby @umiami.edu.