A Salford born TV actor has launched an online casting competition to raise money for a range of charities.
Keaton Lansley, who has appeared in hit dramas like BBC’s ‘Doctors’ and Sky Atlantic’s ‘Little Birds’, set up CastMeComp at the beginning of lockdown to help actors who have struggled to get work due to the pandemic.
Fellow actors pay a fee to enter the online contest run by Do or Die Studios, and have raised £13,000 so far for good causes.
The Boothstown-born actor, represented by Red Door Management, said: “When lockdown started, I was sat at home feeling a bit helpless. I started to feel really guilty about not doing anything.
“I wasn’t a nurse, I wasn’t a doctor, I’d volunteered for the NHS callout and wasn’t contacted due to the overwhelming response.”
Like many others in the industry, Keaton’s work as an actor had dried up.
He added: “The pandemic wasn’t only impacting those in the industry financially, but their creative outlet was shut off, and for some people this had a huge impact on mental health.
Trying to keep creative during the lockdown, Keaton said: “I started setting myself a task, I’d do a self-tape (audition filmed at home) every week.
“I’d find a script, learn it, put it on tape and send it off to my agents. Then my need for creativity and desire to help out merged to create CastMeComp.
Keaton stressed the importance of helping charities throughout the pandemic after it was predicted that there will be a shortfall of income of ‘£12.4 billion’ for 2020.
The competition raised money for charities such as Mind and Manc Spirit, along with many others. Keaton continued: “The charities have of course been really appreciative, I remember dropping off the first delivery to a foodbank and the people collecting it were almost in tears.
“They said they were running really low and it was a life-line.”
Paul Ludden from Manc Spirit, a mental health charity helped by CastMeComp, said: “The donation from Do or Die Studios has allowed us to extend one of our creative writing workshops at a homeless hostel during lockdown.
“The lads involved really appreciate it.”
Actor Catherine Campion described the competition as a “Wonderful creative lifeline.” She added “It has been essential for maintaining our mental health.”
Jarreau Antoine said: “Since discovering CastMeComp, I have been recommending it to friends that are serious about widening their exposure.
“It is a great opportunity to potentially slide onto the radar of award-winning casting directors. It helped me to find my current agent.”
The competition is judged by the likes of directors Daniel O’hara (The Stranger) and Hettie Macdonald (Normal People), and Casting Directors from projects such as JoJo Rabbit, This is England, Sherlock, Born to Kill, Four Lions, In my Skin and Bulletproof.
Do or Die’s aim is to make the arts accessible for all, Keaton explained.
They donated a big portion of tickets to their actor conference in 2019 to working class actors, which is something they did for their Virtual Actor Conference, which took place on Saturday 28th November.
Watch a previous winner, Sam Dean’s entry below: