Alumni Spotlight – Kina Bale-Reed

September 19, 2017  |  Posted by: Ali Kazanowski

Kina Bale-Reed has been a performer from an early age, singing and acting initially in church but then getting involved in UIL in Junior High and High School. After graduating from High School, she attended Tarleton State University and studied theater for a few years before moving to Dallas.

“I found a job working for 2 different technical recruiting companies. I missed the theater and performing, and decided to try to get back into it which is when I discovered KD Conservatory. I was planning to just take some night classes to ease back in, but ended up enrolling in the acting program instead. I left my job as a technical recruiter to start the program in the fall of 1999. During that time, I also attended an improv school and got involved in several troupes. I graduated from KD in January 2001 and went to work for the school following graduation, performing in local theater productions and with several improv troupes around town, later discovering my knack for casting.”

Since, the KD alum has become one of the most prominent casting directors in Dallas. Working on projects like Barney and Friends, Lonestar, Final Witness: The Kids Aren’t Alright and for motion picture production companies such as Tyler Perry Studios.

“Becoming a casting director combined my recruiting background and love for acting and actors, it was a perfect fit for me. You never know where acting is going to take you. You may end up somewhere you never expected.”

How did you get into casting?
Working at the front desk of KD, part of the job was to help coordinate casting sessions, so I had the opportunity to work with some of Dallas’ busiest casting directors and occasionally assisted them with sign-ins. Also, when you work at a school full of actors, casting opportunities present themselves on occasion. One of my first casting “gigs” was to find actors at the school willing to work as extras in a Nike commercial starring Dirk Nowitzki. I got permission from the school administrators, made up flyers and hung them around the school, got maps and instructions together, signed people up, and sent them on their way. They paid me a small fee for my help and I was hooked. It planted the seed and I began doing everything I could to learn that side of the business, including assisting established casting directors, getting involved in local industry organizations, and volunteering at film festivals to meet young filmmakers. Within that first year, I had a handful of small clients, and was working on the TV series Prison Break as a casting assistant and later as a casting associate. I left the show after 1 season to pursue my own projects and Cast-O-Matic was born in January 2007. That Fall I met with the producers of Barney and Friends, they offered me the casting and talent coordinator position which I held until the show ended production in 2010. Then, I put all of my efforts into building up my commercial casting business and that is what I have been doing ever since. These days I primarily cast commercials, print, and industrials, with the occasional indie film or TV pilot.

What does a day in the life look like for you?
I am very fortunate that these days I get to work from home where I do all of my casting prep. My days consist of emails and phone calls with clients and agents, putting out casting breakdowns, selecting talent for auditions, booking casting assistants and studio rentals, creating schedules and audition logs, sending scripts, and testing and packing up equipment for live auditions. Casting days are very different. They are sometimes hectic and chaotic, but so much fun!

Favorite project you’ve worked on?
Hands down Barney and Friends! It was such a joy and honor to work on the show and everyone there – producers, cast, and crew – all felt like family. I will always look back on those 3 years as some of the greatest of my life and career.

Any tips or tricks you can give actors for nailing the audition?

  • Relax! You have to learn to let go of everything in the outside world and just be present in the moment.
  • Be confident even if you have to fake it.
  • As far as scripts, it’s better to have it in your hand and not need it, than to need it and not have it. You may think you are memorized but trust me, you’re probably not and your brain is a tricky beast.
  • Stay positive.

Advice for current KD students?

  • Be patient. It takes time to establish yourself.
  • Get involved. Join local industry organizations and attend as many industry events, as possible.
  • Be flexible. Make yourself as available as possible. Auditions pop up quickly and you want to make sure you if you receive an invitation, you can be there.
  • Keep studying. You will never know enough. Find a weekly class and stick with it. You have to practice your craft, always.
  • Be willing to make sacrifices. When I was starting out in casting, I had several part time jobs and side gigs to make sure that when I got the call I was needed, I could be there. I waited tables on weekends, taught after school and weekend classes, did promotions gigs, and signed up with all of the market research companies (they pay in cash). I missed nights out with friends, lived in a tiny but cheap apartment, and drove an older car, but that’s what you do when a passion burns inside you.

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