Chicks Chat with Shakyra Dowling

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Shakyra Dowling is a London based Casting Director. She works across a wide range of visual media, specializing in British Independent Feature Films, European co-productions, TV and commercials.  We at Those London Chicks catch up with Shakyra who tells us about finding her true ‘calling’…

Shakyra, you clearly have a passion for the ‘Performing Arts’. Was that always the case, or did you have any other aspirations as you were growing up, becoming a vet or social worker or …?

To be honest, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do for a long time. I did a foundation art school back in Malta, where I’m from,  then dropped out of that and came to London to explore different options. I applied for several drama schools and when I got in, it all fell into place.

Some of us may know you as an Actress, Theatre Practitioner with your own company, tell us a bit about that period in your life?

Shot from ‘ Amar Akbar & Tony’

When I left drama school, I started my own production company which focused on new writing. I had a couple of shows at The Assembly Rooms in the Edinburgh Festival and at Riverside Studios.

You are now a Casting Director, you’ve found your true calling. What made you decide to move into Casting?

I had 2 children which took me out of the theatre for a couple of years. When casting came along, it all fell into place. Everything I had done previously led to this point and all my experiences were drawn upon. Casting films really is my calling! I’m really passionate about getting the right cast.

How did you make the transition so successfully?

Casting seemed to choose me, so it was an easy fit! As with most things, one job leads to another.

You have cast a number of fantastic projects in Film, TV, Music Videos, Commercials what is your favourite medium to cast….are you allowed to say?

Feature films are my favourite for sure! I do love the fast pace turn around of commercial castings too. A good balance of film and commercial is what I aim for.

Those London Chicks chat with Shakyra dowling
‘Breaking Free’

Those of us who are involved in the ‘business’ know, there are many factors to being cast in a role, some of which is out of the actors/actresses control. What elements make for a great audition?

Preparation! You can’t do enough. Know your lines, know who you are meeting and what they have done previously. Always take your time, you’ve been given the opportunity to audition, so don’t rush through it.

Shakyra, we have to ask, what is the worse type of auditionee and why?

The actor who comes in with an arrogant attitude and yet is ill prepared for the role.

You started your career in front of the camera/audience. Is there a little part of you that sometimes wishes you were the one still auditioning?

Not at all, I love what I do and can’t see myself in front of the camera again!

The main characters of ‘Amar Akbar & Tony’

Finally, what project you’ve cast, can we see next?

I have quite couple of things coming out soon – Amar, Akbar and Tony, a British Asian comedy drama that follows the lives of 3 best friends, directed by Atul Malhotra.

The Power of the Heart a docudrama by Drew Herot (who directed The Secret). http://www.thepoweroftheheart.com

Thank you Shakira!!

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Interview by Karen Bryson