For many aspiring performers, casting directors are enigmas. Because they are often the gatekeepers between performers and key opportunities, casting directors possess power which can be more than a little intimidating. If we are honest, perhaps some of us will admit that we have bought into the stereotype that they are impatient, rude people who relish the status of their position.
If there are any truths in these biases, you will find none of them exemplified in Scott Wojcik (MFA Program 1988-91), founding partner of Wojcik | Seay Casting in New York City. Even as one of the most established casting directors in the city, Wojcik has managed to retain his ability to be kind, compassionate, and humble. He sees each actor he meets as an individual with a unique artistic mind and believes that it is important to nurture developing talent.
Originally from Bristol, Rhode Island, Wojcik was active in his high school theatre program, but chose to study management and marketing at Bentley University (then Bentley College) in Waltham, Massachusetts. He assumed that theatre would remain a hobby until the day he met Mary Ellen Johnson, the coordinator of a new creative and performing arts program at Bentley.
Johnson shared Wojcik's passion for the arts and encouraged him to consider applying his business acumen to his artistic interests. Wojcik recalls, “I'll never forget this. She said, ‘Scott, there's business in art and I can teach you about that.' That was an epiphany for me. So, I worked with her and started creating opportunities for myself and others to make theatre. It gave me great free rein to create and do things – which was awesome.”
Upon graduation, Johnson connected Wojcik with her counterpart at Texas Tech University (TTU), Mary Donahue, who offered him a graduate assistant position in the University Center Activities Office which would allow him to build upon his experience producing and supporting arts and performance. This position required him to enroll as a graduate student, so – as sort of an afterthought – Wojcik decided to join the theatre department's brand-new MFA arts management program.
Wojcik soon began to realize he had immersed himself into a challenging environment: “I remember the first time I got invited to a study group. I thought it was a party, so I showed up with a six-pack. And it was a bunch of doctoral students who had all read an extra book and written reports. I was like, wow! I'm really in a different world here. But they were amazing people and I learned so much from all of them.”
While at TTU, Wojcik was so moved by a production of Frank Wedekin's Spring Awakening directed by the late Dr. George Sorenson, former Professor of Theatre Arts, that he decided to throw himself into the fold and audition for the following season. An obvious talent, he performed regularly in departmental productions and did extensive course work in acting and directing.
Wojcik credits his time at TTU, and specifically, his work with Dr. Sorensen, with laying the foundation for everything he has done since, including his approach to casting: “[Dr. Sorensen] had a vocabulary of actor truth to reality and make believe. And I still use his phraseology. I've added my own to it based on my experiences, of course, but he's the roux that my sauce is made from.”
In the summer of 1991, Wojcik moved to Dallas, where he joined several other TTU theatre alumni in a production of William Shakespeare's Measure for Measure at The Deep Ellum Theatre Garage under the direction of former TTU directing professor, Dr. Mary Anne Mitchell, before joining a tour of what he describes as “the most wonderfully awful production” of Pinocchio.
Following the tour, Wojcik planted himself in and among the bright lights of New York City. He plugged away at an acting career for five or six years with measured success, while strategically offering his services as a casting assistant to build his network of industry professionals. He was fortunate to secure work with several independent directors during this period who helped him to learn the ins and outs of casting in its many forms. Thus, the foundation for his later career was laid.
Then, in 1999, Wojcik began working full-time alongside renowned New York City casting director, Charles Rosen. He discussed the thought process behind the decision: “I wasn't ready to stop performing, but reality hit. I wasn't booking, and I thought I was too good and too smart to not feel successful. All this coincided with Charles [Rosen] wanting a full-time employee. And so, you know, I just felt like things had reached critical mass. So, I jumped over the table.”
Wojcik worked alongside Rosen for the next six years, establishing himself as an essential member of the team. By 2005, he became partner of Rosen & Wojcik Casting. Then, in 2009, Rosen opted for retirement. Now more than ready to run the show, Wojcik brought in Gayle Seay, a long-time friend who shared his background in performance. Since then, Wojcik | Seay Casting has provided their services for clients in NYC theatre, regional theatre, national/international tours, film/tv/web, as well as for commercials both on camera and print. These days, their primary focus is theatre, and Wojcik | Seay Casting has developed a reputation as that office that knows all the new and established people.
Wojcik's next professional chapter is just around the corner. Gayle Seay will be exiting the partnership at the end of the year to become artistic director for one of their theatre clients. Starting in 2022, the company's name will change to The Wojcik Casting Team.
Remarkably, throughout his career, Wojcik has refused to relinquish his core values, and his philosophical approach to casting can be applied to any number of disciplines. Despite his busy schedule, Wojcik is very generous with his knowledge, regularly sharing his expertise and perspective with students at universities across the nation and in self-produced workshops throughout the city.
Through his experiences (on both sides of the table), Wojcik has developed a sincerity that allows him to impart sage advice to others with great humility. If you find yourself in an audition room across the table from Wojcik, take a deep breath and count yourself lucky. You can rest assured that he sees you as whole person, that he appreciates you as an artist, and that he is cheering for you to succeed. Also, pay attention. Wojcik might drop a nugget of wisdom in your lap before you walk out the door.