Telemundo: Our international casting call yielded 4 thousand applicants

March 6, 2024

Maribel Ramos-Weiner

Ximena Cantuarias: We hope to find a lead, but surely we will find many guest actors who can grow on our screen and obtain a more prominent place in our productions

The international open casting call launched by Telemundo a few weeks ago was an idea from Ronald Day, President of Entertainment and Content Strategy at the network, born out of the importance of seeking new faces and talents, not only for scripted but also for unscripted content.

“Ronald presented me with the challenge of conducting an open casting call. We started thinking about Mexico and Miami and ended up in four different cities: Los Angeles, Miami, Mexico, and Bogotá. The basic idea revolves around these four cities, which are pillars for actors and talent in our productions,” Ximena Cantuarias, Senior VP of Scripted Production at NBCUniversal Telemundo Enterprises, told PRODU.

Cantuarias explained that they selected these cities because, in the case of Los Angeles, it is the largest Latino market in the U.S. “It is super important to find people in Los Angeles who are Latino, who speak Spanish, but at the same time, represent our culture and Latino talent.” Regarding Miami, where Telemundo Center is located, she said, “For me, Miami is a priority. We produce in our studios and need local actors, both protagonists and guest actors daily. If we can have new faces and generate new talents in Miami, it is essential. Many times we have to repeat actors because they live here.” She added that in every project, there are main actors, many supporting actors, and guest actors per episode.

“We hope to find a lead, but surely we will find many guest actors who can grow on our screen and obtain a more prominent place in our productions,” she said.

As for Mexico, Cantuarias recalled that Telemundo now produces directly in Mexico. While acknowledging that this market has many actors, she admits that they often end up calling the same ones. “We all realize that when we enter a channel, a platform, we encounter actors that we identify from other places because we end up falling into the vicious circle of the same actors.”

Regarding Colombia, it is another place where Telemundo frequently produces. “This year we are going to produce in Colombia again. We have done Pasión de Gavilanes, La Reina del Sur, short series like Jugar con Fuego, El Barón with SPT, Operación Pacífico, and Colombia encompasses South America,” she said.

Cantuarias mentioned that the casting call was “crazy.” They expected to receive between 8,000 to 10,000 applications and ended up with more than 22,000.

By the time the casting call closed, the final number decreased to 4,000 applicants because they had to submit a self-tape performing a scene from a Telemundo project of their choice.

“As of today, we have 4,000 applicants who took the time to look for the project, select the scene, want to tell us who they are, where they are from, and why they want to audition, for which character and from which project they chose,” she said.

She mentioned that they aim to have these new faces ready for projects starting in June and August in the three countries – the U.S., Mexico, and Colombia. She noted that the casting call callbacks will take place from March to early April.

Cantuarias also shared some interesting percentages about the applicants’ diversity. The percentages of self-tapes received are 36% from Colombia, almost 30% from Miami, 27% from Mexico, and nearly 10% from Los Angeles.

Regarding the country of residence, 30% are from the U.S.; both Mexico and Colombia have 22%; Ecuador, Peru, and Venezuela present a “significant percentage,” according to Cantuarias.

She mentioned that for the selection, they work with a traffic light system: red ones are discarded, they work with the green ones, and the yellow ones are applications with potential. Miguel Varoni is the director who analyzes the U.S. casting.

Another aspect that the executive highlighted is that this casting call also responds to a need for diversity in both nationality and age.

60% of the applicants are in the 26 to 39 age group, while those in the 19 to 25 age group constitute 25%. “85% are in the 19 to 39 age demo,” she said.

Cantuarias emphasized that this casting call will be for scripted, unscripted, and streaming productions. “We generate a catalog that is accessible to all areas,” she emphasized.

For Cantuarias, it is important to highlight that this initiative will not end only with the official casting call. “We will continue doing castings; we have offices in various countries,” she said and pointed out that to produce more than a thousand original hours this year, this casting call reinforces that objective.