Emily Keston is one half of Keston and Keston – a children’s casting and management organisation – which she set up with her twin sister L–J. She talks to Giverny Masso about why children’s casting directors have a responsibility to make sure every child feels valued after an audition…
How did you and your sister L-J get into theatre?
As children, we performed in theatre, television and film professionally, and that experience has shaped the way we now cast. We both went down an academic route and went to university: L-J studied law and I did journalism, so in essence our early experiences have stayed with us. We know how important it is to ensure every child goes away from an audition feeling valued regardless of the outcome, so that’s been a huge influence on what we do now.
Can you tell me about the first company you founded, Stagebox?
We co-founded Stagebox five years ago, and that was actually in the school holidays of university. Stagebox is intense musical theatre, TV and film training for children during the school holidays. The majority of children are from outside of London. We’ve got Stagebox schools in London, Leeds and Manchester, and it’s about to open in Birmingham and Edinburgh. It’s obviously been hugely successful and that company is now being run independently by a team who are fantastic, so we can work on children’s casting and general management independently.
Can you tell me about the new casting app you have created through Keston and Keston?
We realised there is a real lack of genuine access for children in the industry and outside London, so we’ve developed the first children’s casting app. It allows children, whether they’re represented, unrepresented, newcomers or experienced performers, to actually access castings. We have 47,000 children registered on the app. We knew we wanted to do something next generation for children’s casting. The app launched a year and a half ago and we’ve used it in our search for shows including Nativity and The Grinch.
What is the most important thing to consider in children’s casting?
It’s about nurturing every child.They may not be right for a project, but ultimately every child has something special to offer, so we think it’s about giving them the time and the recognition. For example, in Nativity we developed a system where we wanted every child to feel important, so we developed a certificate that every child took away. It’s about small things and thinking about the children as people rather than as auditionees, because their feelings are so important, and that audition day may stay with them for the rest of their life.
First professional role: Seeing Red TV drama (2000)
Agent: Sam Day at InterTalent
Emily Keston and her twin sister L-J are children’s casting directors and the founders of Stagebox and Keston and Keston: kestonandkestoncasting.com