Binta Barry knew what she wanted to do this summer, and she didn’t let a little thing like rejection stand in her way.
Barry ’17, a theatre major from Clifton, became interested in the casting side of acting during her sophomore year and reached out to one of the most well-regarded casting companies, arvold., in Virginia, regarding a possible internship.
Nothing came of it.
But when Erica Arvold, founder and CEO of the company, came to Longwood for a workshop in professor Lacy Klinger’s Acting 4 class, Barry didn’t waste an opportunity to meet Erica face to face.
"I asked Professor Klinger if I could sit in on the class, even though there wasn’t really enough room for me," said Barry. "I wasn’t even in the Acting 4 class, but I knew I had to take advantage of this opportunity to go for it."
She had the opportunity to speak with Erica, which led to an interview a few weeks later. Ultimately Barry landed the internship—which gave her an invaluable behind-the-scenes look at one of the most critical pieces of successful film or theater work.
"Casting really clicks with me," said Barry. "It combines everything I love about communications and working with people with this intense love for acting that I’ve felt my entire life. What a lot of people don’t realize is how necessary casting is for a successful show, movie or play. It’s really integral to the process, and working with arvold. this summer underscored that in a tangible way."
Barry was one of the first arvold. employees to work at the company’s new DC area office —lush accommodations for the intern, who spent her first several weeks learning the ropes. arvold. has cast several popular television shows and films, from AMC’s TURN: Washington’s Spies to the blockbuster feature Lincoln. It was a movie that’s gotten a lot of buzz around Virginia, however, that threw Barry feet-first into the fire: Loving.
An open casting call for the movie about Virginia natives Richard and Mildred Loving, whose love affair sparked nationwide change in the form of a Supreme Court ruling that struck down the commonwealth’s ban on interracial marriage, required all arvold. hands on deck. Barry joined Erica Arvold in Richmond on the day of the open casting.
"There were people not only lined up around the block, but down the next block and under a bridge," said Barry. "It was crazy. We were looking for certain types of people who had a look that would fit in with the requirements of the parts in the movie. I shadowed Erica for part of the day until she turned to me and asked if I would like to go off on my own and select some people to read for a specific part. It was a thrill to think that perhaps I could select the person who ended up making it to the big screen."
It didn’t take long, however, for the weight of the responsibility to hit home.
"A lot of actors don’t realize that casting directors are their biggest advocates—we don’t just sit in judgment of people," said Barry. "Sometimes the success of the final product depends on how well the actors we select perform, so we really want those actors to knock it out of the park. As I was looking at faces and talking to people in Richmond, where the story hits so close to home, I understood my responsibility to both arvold. and to the people in that line."
It’s that perspective that she’s bringing back to Longwood and theater productions for her junior year. And that can only help her development with both acting and casting.
"I see performance in a more full way as both actor and casting director," she said. "So when I think about what I will do with a part, I’m not only thinking about what I can bring to the part, but what the casting director wants from the role. That’s an incredibly valuable perspective to have, and it sets me apart from a lot of people—especially after I graduate and explore careers in theater or movies."