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Meet Julie Arvedon Knowlton of Slate Casting in Back Bay

Today we’d like to introduce you to Julie Arvedon Knowlton.

Julie, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I have always loved theater. I performed in my first show when I was in second grade (Mary Poppins in ‘Mary Poppins’) and while I haven’t been on stage for quite a while, I still absolutely love being in the audience and being behind the scenes. I love working with actors and Boston has some of the most talented people I have ever seen. I began working with local Boston actors right out of Syracuse University when I was a radio and TV producer. I then moved into the corporate video world and began to cast my own projects. Pretty soon I realized how much I loved casting and 25 years later, I’m still at it. With a few detours into theatrical publicity and teaching, I ultimately came back to casting full time.

My business partner Ashley Skomurski and I launched Slate Casting in May of 2016. Ashley is an incredibly talented casting director with an eye for finding that ‘needle in a haystack’. Six months after opening we added a third partner, Aaron Kahl, another amazing casting director who helps to balance out our high energy personalities. As a full service casting company, we cast for film, television, commercials, web, live events, voice-overs, and basically any project that needs talent. We all love what we do and I truly believe that our clients and the local acting community feel a difference when they work with Slate.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
There hadn’t been a new casting company in Boston for many, many years, but production in New England had been steadily growing and more and more actors were staying in Boston rather than moving away in order to work. We wanted to be part of this tremendous growth and provide our expertise and knowledge of the acting community to anyone who was looking for talent. I think we surprised ourselves as to how quickly our dream of starting a company exploded into a full-fledged business. We landed our first feature film casting just 2 months after opening our doors. We are extremely grateful to all our clients who have trusted us to cast their projects and we have been overwhelmed by the support in the acting community.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Slate Casting story. Tell us more about the business.
Slate Casting specializes in the full-service union and non-union casting for industrials, commercials, films, live events, voiceovers, web videos, theater, print, real people, and any other project that requires talent. We use a dynamic casting database which provides clients and talent with a cutting-edge tool to make the casting experience a success from slate to the scene. We look at ourselves as a ‘Boutique’ casting company. Ashley, Aaron and I tend to work together on all our projects as we each bring a unique set of skills to the table. I think this collaboration is what makes us unique. When clients work with Slate, they work with the three owners and we all contribute to making the job a success.

Our ‘Real People’ casting is one aspect of our company that also sets us apart. We are known for our ability to find ‘a needle in a haystack’- to be able to cast crucial roles with real people who may have never done any acting before in their lives, but are absolutely perfect for a particular project. We go out in the field, we personally meet with people in the community, we create an environment of trust and we truly care. We have met some incredibly inspiring people who we would never have had an opportunity to connect with if it weren’t for Slate.

We are also always meeting new people through our Slate classes. Ashley teaches an on-camera acting class for kids and teens, Aaron teaches on-camera auditioning for adults and I teach ‘Before the Slate’ a class for people who are just starting out who are looking for guidance about what they need to do to become an actor in Boston. in addition to classes, we also have special services to cast pets, our Set Pets Division, and we write a blog called the Bacon Blog. You’ll need to read it to find out why it has that name!

Above all, I’m proud of the fact that the actors we work with feel they have a safe, creative space when they audition with us. I believe we create an atmosphere for actors to do their best work and we couldn’t be happier.

Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
I do feel very lucky. I remember many, many years ago I was having dinner with a friend who is a makeup artist. I was just starting out in casting and I said to her “I would love to someday cast a feature film and you and I are in the credits- you as a makeup artist and me as the casting director.” I’m not sure if I ever thought that would actually happen, but about 20 years later- it did! A film both my friend and I worked on recently wrapped and I was the casting director and she was the makeup artist. In a way, it’s a dream come true.

I also feel very lucky to have met the friends and colleagues that I have now. Having Ashley and Aaron in my life is truly lucky and getting to know so many actors over the past 25 years is also a blessing. I still work with many of the actors who I worked with when I was just getting started. It’s incredible to be able to maintain those connections. Very lucky.

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