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How I Got To “The Happiest Place On Earth”

Ever wonder how the people of influence in Hollywood actually get there? Director of Casting at Walt Disney Studios Feature Animation, Jamie Roberts invites us into her world as she reveals her journey to “the land where dreams come true”. Every day, people flock to Los Angeles in search of making it in “the business” and every day, Jamie gets to make someone’s dream come true. If your dream is to go to “the happiest place on Earth,” then you DEFINITELY want to comment and share her post, because Jamie will be giving away FOUR (4) TICKETS TO DISNEYLAND (in Anaheim) to one lucky winner! Details on how to enter to win Disneyland tickets follow her post. ***Giveaway below – Ends June 15th***




By Jamie Roberts

Director of Casting, Walt Disney Studios Feature Animation
Los Angeles, CA

Although we were raised in the same house, by the same parents and went to the same schools, it was apparent from the time we were in middle school that my older sister (by 2 ½ years), Marnie had definitive life and career goals while I was directionless and was going to remain that way until I was about 22 years old. Marnie and I were both television/movie addicts from before I can remember. While I watched “The Brady Bunch” as a couch potato, my sister was a type-A sponge absorbing all of the filmmaking details. She memorized the names in the credits from moguls to gaffers while I sang along to the commercials for Malibu Barbie and daydreamed about owning my own EZ Bake Oven.

At San Diego State University, I obtained the pre-requisites for six different majors before my parents asked my sister (who had already begun her career as a talent agent in Hollywood) to intervene and help me figure out what the heck I was going to do with my life. Marnie suggested that I “come home for the summer” and work as a chauffeur for an actor that her company represented. I had nothing else to do, so I took the opportunity to make a little extra spending money. My client, let’s call him “Actor X”, had a hard time preparing for his auditions, so I ran scenes with him and made sure he was properly dressed and on time to all of his appointments. Actor X had dozens of opportunities in those three months, but still he decided to move back to New York and give up on the whole L.A. scene. With my temp driver position over, Actor X’s managers offered me a position as an assistant which kind of intrigued me. My parents encouraged me to pursue the opportunity and I packed my San Diego bags and moved home to finish school at Cal State Northridge while working part time in talent management.

When I finally graduated with my Bachelor’s in Communication Studies with an emphasis in TV/Film/Theater (which took about six months longer than it should have because I had wasted so much time in courses like Ceramics and Library Skills 101), I was offered a full-time position by my employers. But at that point, I knew I was not made for the type of hand-holding and ass-kissing that it would take for me to become a successful talent manager. My bosses sat me down and recommended a career in casting. The way they put it was that in casting, I would only be exposed to actors at the best fifteen minutes of their day rather than during the other twenty-three hours and forty-five minutes that would require cleaning up their messes and wiping away their tears. Based on the referral of the management company partners, immediately I began working as a casting assistant to one of the most prolific casting directors in town.

In the first month, I knew that casting was for me. I loved auditioning actors, creatively placing them in the right roles and negotiating deals. The job required me to use my creativity, problem-solving skills, love for puzzles and blessed me with the opportunity to help people find work. I used to joke that my job didn’t give back to humanity (like neurosurgery or rocket science), but when I look at the big picture, I realize that not only am I part of shows that entertain and move people. I am also helping people secure a livelihood. I go home at night after an honest day’s work, kiss my child and rest my head knowing that a directionless, average student with no real original ambition can make a difference.


Jamie Sparer Roberts is the head of Casting for Feature Animation at Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, California. In addition to her 15 year career as a casting professional in the TV/Film industry, she is enjoying the rewards of parenthood as a mother to her precocious 7 year old daughter Sadie. Ms. Roberts resides in the San Fernando Valley area of Los Angeles, CA where she was born and raised.

For more information on Jamie, click here.



***GIVEAWAY***

Jamie is giving away 4 tickets to Disneyland is Anaheim, CA to one lucky winner.

The giveaway for the tickets to Disneyland follow the same rules as the other Speakerpalooza giveaways:

1. To enter to win, comment on this blog, leaving an email address to contact you in case you win.
2. The giveaway runs from now until June 15th at midnight. One lucky winner will be chosen and contacted. They have 72 hours to reply before the prize defaults to the runner-up. Winners will be announced on June 25th here on the WSA featured blog.
3. Only one entry per giveaway. (But you can enter as many different Speakerpalooza giveaways as you want.)
4. International submission accepted!

Click on “read more” to post and view comments.

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13 Comments

  1. excellent! Congrats for following your dream!

  2. Jamie, I’m also a SDSU graduate – nice to see another so happy in her career.

    I totally agree that knowing what lights you up and having the courage to pursue that as your career is the best say to be HAPPY!

    Thanks for sharing the light with us at WSA!

    Melanie Benson Strick
    Big Idea Catalyst and
    America’s Leading Authority on Optimum Performance

  3. Wow what a fun journey, Jamie! Something that on the onset seems kind of “accidental” was actually the perfect path to take you somewhere fulfilling, meaningful, INTERESTING and fun! You are making a difference for your clients and you ARE making a difference in the world. Imagine a world without entertainment? People would have no hope, no laughter and no FUN, worrying away their days. Thank you for your service and for sharing your story with us!

  4. Hi Jamie,

    Thanks for sharing your story. It’s funny how sometimes we never end up where we thought we were going…

    Wendy

  5. Amy Garey Ramirez

    Jamie- I had no idea this is what you were doing! This is amazing!!! Congrats on such a rewarding and successful career! Love the story of how this all came to be…

    Amy

  6. Lauren Shorten

    Jamie~
    Amazing story on how everything falls into place!
    As I have learned you need to try something knew
    no matter what – you never know what can happen!
    You & your sister are total stars!

    Mazel, Mazel!
    Lauren

  7. Susie Jackson

    Sounds like you have a fantastic gig and have worked super hard to get there! Congrats, Jamie!

  8. Allyson Rassouli

    Jamie,
    Congratulations to you on a successful career. I am so happy for you and proud of you. It is always wonderful to see successful women. Keep up the good work!
    Sincerely,
    Allyson Rassouli

  9. Fabiola Ravine

    Hi Jamie!

    Such a great success story. Keep up the great work.

  10. With a name like Roberts how can you go wrong? 😀 😀

    A journey indeed Jamie. So glad you shared it with us as it just highlights that the grass may appear greener yet there is always more lawn to mow. What’s behind the person isn’t always as we assume and it’s also such a great example of how we can so easily head in a direction that is so different to what we may have planned to be ‘when we’re a grown up’.

    Congratulations 🙂

  11. Jamie,

    I am inspired by your story. One of the threads throughout your story is that you were ‘open’ and allowed yourself to flow to what spoke to your heart, which is casting. I am glad that you are able to see that you are making a difference and your work make impact and helps others. Thank you for sharing your story.

    Shine On,
    Frenetta

  12. Jamie,

    I have been a Disney fan all my life. I even moved to Anaheim to be close to the Happiest Place on Earth. The work you do touches so many lives––never underestimate that! What a wonderfully inspiring story! I would LOVE to be involved in a Disney film one day and I know from past experience that dreams can come true. Thanks for sharing!

    Aloha,
    Angie

  13. Jamie – I own by own business and I’m so happy that you love what you do, and are so very good at it.

    Not that it matters but we’re season pass holders to Disneyland and our entire family LOVES Disney! I’ve been thinking about how we can get our youngest daughter (4) into child acting and would love advice on what type of classes to get her into. i.e. Singing, Music, gymnastics, etc … she already dances competitive hula. Feel free to email me at the email provided in the signup. Thanks!!

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