Casting Director AJ Links Answers Five Questions with SCREEN
What does it mean to “channel your inner Beyonce?” Find out right here as Casting Director AJ Links of Chicago’s superb PR Casting stops by for a thoroughly entertaining round of Five Questions with SCREEN. Let’s get to it!
SCREEN: Your most prized possession?
AJ: I saved voicemails my mom left me dating back to 2018 on my phone. This is a good reminder to back those up!
SCREEN: Your favorite casting project ever?
AJ: I’m really lucky that this question was the hardest to answer. Station Eleven stands out to me because it felt so special creatively. The showrunners were genuine and brilliant, looked you in the eye, listened, and considered. No decision was made in haste or without intention. When leadership treats a project with that amount of tenderness, everyone follows suit, and the whole process of world-building feels more like magic and less like work. It was a dream team I pinched myself to be on and a privilege to be in the room.
On a personal note, we got this project when wildfires were raging in my hometown, Sonoma County. Going to the grocery store I felt like Jeevan; there were folks checking out with multiple carts of water jugs and supplies. I will never forget reading the original book while flying back to Chicago, seeing flames out the airplane window and feeling like our character, Clark. I felt like I had a taste of Emily St. John Mandel’s world in my real life as we worked on it, and that’s even before COVID-19 hit.
To see what they did with the show after it left Chicago made me so proud. The performances of the entire ensemble are top notch and the writing delicate and truthful and gut-punching.
SCREEN: If you could play any superhero in a major motion picture, who would it be? Why?
AJ: Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Duh.
SCREEN: What is one piece of advice you would give to an actor coming into your office to audition?
AJ: This is your moment, so take it. Channel your Beyonce and super prepare. Ask questions. Investigate. As Mickie Paskal says, “risk the preparation” and invest your time and thought. Prepare so much you can do it without thinking about it. Take up space. You’re at the right place at the right time. This is it! If you don’t believe, we won’t.
SCREEN: If you could bring back any canceled TV show in history, what would it be?
Friday Night Dinner. It’s a comedy focused on a middle-class British Jewish family and their Friday night dinners. It is zany and silly and I love it. Paul Ritter’s performance is one of my favorites of all time and absolutely worth watching.
Here is a quick preview of AJ’s fave show…
SCREEN: Your greatest athletic achievement?
AJ: I was acknowledged at my high school graduation as a 4-year varsity athlete. I went to boarding school. I had initially signed up for dance to avoid the hells of Field Hockey (all the girls who scared me in the dorms were now running at me with hard, shiny sticks). So yes, I danced for 4 years, but non-competitively. So, you can picture it: a bunch of hockey, basketball, and soccer players, many of whom had set school records and fought the clock to bring home a win… and me. I think this was a clerical error. Regardless, I will brag about being a varsity athlete for the remainder of my days.
SCREEN: One meal, one restaurant, and we’re buying. What will it be?
AJ: We live in Chicago! Are you kidding me? I cannot answer this but I will list some!!!!
SCREEN: Best advice you’ve ever been given in your own career?
AJ: Be kind. Listen. Work hard and make yourself proud.
Thanks for playing, AJ! For more from AJ and the fabulous folx at PR Casting, click right here.
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