ABC Goes Digital in Search for Next Big Star

Digital casting initiative offers aspiring thesps, comedians talent holding and option deals with ABC

ABC is heading to the internet in search of breakthrough talent with the launch of Make Me A Star.

Initiative marks the first time a major TV net has offered a digital talent competition that exclusively targets aspiring actors and comedians. Instead of relying on already represented thesps in major metropolitan areas for the cast of scripted programs, Alphabet is broadening its talent pool by offering a platform for unknowns in any city to virtually showcase their skills.

Keli Lee, exec veep of casting at ABC, told Variety that Make Me A Star was conceived after one particular video went ultra-viral online.

“My team and I are constantly in pursuit of talent,” Lee said. “When Psy blew up, my executive heard about it on KCRW and sent me a clip of this guy — at the time, it was at around 33,000 views. I sent it to hundreds of my friends, and now it’s at a billion-plus views. In that moment, I thought, ‘Here’s a guy from South Korea who made it globally…How do I get people from around the world to come to us?'”

Make Me A Star kicked off at the beginning of this month and offers both a public and private competition.

In the public competition, ABC reviews vids posted on the Make Me A Star website and ABC Casting Facebook page for the public to vote on. Winner nabs a 6-month $10,000 talent option agreement with the net. In the private competition, ABC narrows down the finalists to a winner in-house. That winner receives a one-year $25,000 talent holding deal with the Alphabet.

Contestants in both competitions must be 18 or older to enter, though Lee notes she’s currently working on launching a digital casting site for tykes, as well. The competitions are accepting submissions through July 12.

Make Me A Star joins ABC’s other casting initiatives, including a Gotham and LA talent showcase that has led to castings such as Jesse Williams in “Grey’s Anatomy,” Dania Ramirez in “Devious Maids,” Liza Lapira in “Super Fun Night” and Jorge Garcia in “Lost.”

While heading to the digital waters in search of undiscovered talent is becoming increasingly common in showbiz, ABC’s casting site arises against a backdrop of fall skeins that boast big name talent, with thesps like Andy Samberg, Robin Williams, Michael J. Fox and Rebel Wilson toplining new programs.

Where do fresh faces fit in in this mix?

“My view on talent,” Lee said succintly, “is that we need to have a diverse portfolio of actors: we need big stars, we need to reinvent stars, and most of all we need a pipeline of new talent coming into ABC.”

Visit http://www.abcmakemeastar.com or http://facebook.com/abcegcasting for more info on the Make Me A Star initiative.

Popular on Variety

More TV

  • NBCUNIVERSAL LOGOS -- Pictured: "E!" Logo

    NBCUniversal Cable Hit With Significant Layoffs

    Another round of layoffs are set to impact NBCUniversal’s E!, Bravo, Oxygen, USA and Syfy networks Thursday, a source familiar with the situation tells Variety, not long after the E! network laid off around 20-25 staff in August. This round of layoffs is likely to impact fewer than 45 employees, more than last month’s news [...]

  • Peaky Blinders Season 5

    Time-Jumping Season 5 of 'Peaky Blinders' Aims for a More Cinematic Look

    Cinematographer Si Bell was thrilled to learn he and director Anthony Byrne had been tapped to shoot the fifth season of BBC’s “Peaky Blinders,” but surprised to find out how free a hand executive producers Caryn Mandabach and Jamie Glazebrook were giving them to determine the scheme of their six-episode run. “I expected to meet the [...]

  • Daniel Levy Schitts Creek

    'Schitt's Creek' Co-Creator Dan Levy Signs ABC Studios Overall Deal

    “Schitt’s Creek” breakout Dan Levy has signed a multi-year overall deal at ABC Studios. Under the deal, Levy will develop and produce scripted projects for the studio. “Dan Levy has proven himself as one of the most creative people in the TV business,” said Jonnie Davis, president of ABC Studios. “His writing, acting and producing [...]

  • Barry Bill Hader

    Emmys 2019: Clear Favorites and Top Challengers for This Year's Winners (Column)

    If this felt like the longest, most expensive Emmy campaign in history, you might be right. For one thing, the 2019 Primetime Emmys will be held Sept. 22, which is the latest the ceremony has taken place since 2013. That also happened to be the last year of TV’s quaint, pre-streaming era, before outlets like [...]

  • AMERICA'S GOT TALENT -- "Live Results

    TV Ratings: 'America's Got Talent' Finale Draws 10 Million Viewers

    SPOILER ALERT: Do not read on if you have not seen the season 14 finale of “America’s Got Talent.” The finale of NBC’s “America’s Got Talent,” which saw blind, autistic singer Kodi Lee crowned the winner, drew almost exactly 10 million viewers for the Peacock on Wednesday night. Bolstered by a robust, velvety Cher performance, [...]

  • Ava-Mark-Split

    Ava DuVernay, Mark Ruffalo Selected for SAG-AFTRA Foundation Honors

    Ava DuVernay and Mark Ruffalo have been selected by the SAG-AFTRA Foundation for its fourth Annual Patron of the Artists Awards. The awards will be presented on Nov. 7 at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills. The show benefits the nonprofit SAG-AFTRA Foundation and is not televised. Previous SAG-AFTRA Foundation Patron of the [...]

  • Programme Name: The Cry - TX:

    Brazil, U.K. Lead International Emmy Awards Nominations

    Brazil and the U.K. lead the pack in this year’s International Emmy Awards nominations, which span 21 countries across 11 categories. Titles and talent from Britain and Brazil will vie with other hopefuls for the trophy in five categories: drama, best performance by an actor, best performance by an actress, arts programming and documentary. Brazilian [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content