washingtonpost.com
Reaching for the Stars: Casting Director

By Danny Freedman
Express
Thursday, May 12, 2005 3:56 PM

NIKKI WEBBER, 39

JOB: Director of talent and casting for Silver Spring-based cable network TV One

SALARY: From $50,000 to $150,000, said Webber.

EDUCATION: Bachelor's in communications from Rutgers University and a master's in media from New School University in New York.

WHAT SHE DOES: Webber seeks out and screen-tests potential hosts for TV One's programs and series, such as the interior-design show "Living with Soul;" she also books guests, as on the newsy interview show "TV One on One." Webber networks, sorts through audition tapes and holds casting calls to find potential talent, but a host has to be more than a pretty mug. Webber needs experts who are opinionated but also "relatable and accessible" -- someone who's "just as comfortable at a swanky high-end event as they are in the corner barbershop in the 'hood," she said. She works connections to book celebrities like Jamie Foxx, whom she landed literally through a friend of a friend.

WOULD YOU WANT HER JOB? Not if you can't dish out a healthy dose of honesty. "Not everybody works for TV," she said. She tries to be up front, whether the problem is someone's looks or their ability to take direction. The job also involves near-constant travel with hosts or for casting calls.

HOW YOU CAN GET HER JOB: Most people will have to claw their way up from the bottom. As a production assistant on music videos, Webber filled gas tanks, swept floors and walked dogs -- but she was building relationships along the way. "Hollywood and television are so much based on relationships," she said. "If I don't know people directly, I know people who know people." 

FOR MORE INFORMATION: TV One; Webber also suggested ShowBizJobs.com and EntertainmentCareers.net.

This article originally appeared in the Express on March 21, 2005.

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