By Jennifer Rudolph
Katja Blichfeld and I began teaching together 7 years ago when I FIRST opened The Actor's Green Room. We taught a class together for years and she became a permanent staple at AGR.
In Katja's words:
"I think The Actor's Green Room is a very valuable format for actors to participate in because it gives them an opportunity to receive professional feedback from multiple sources. It is a realistic sort of experience, in the sense that actors get varying opinions on their work – just as they would in life, going to different casting offices. Then the actors can put all this feedback together and assess where they are truly at in terms of ability and readiness for “the real world” of auditioning. It is a mistake for actors to think that school training is all they need to get in front of a camera. Once an actor gets in the room with the lights pointed at them, the camera in their face, etc – they see it isn’t just like sitting in class with a group of your peers. I always know that the actors I'll be meeting at AGR have already been schooled on what to expect in an audition, for instance. Her expertise in the casting industry has afforded her valuable insight: she knows how to guide actors in making real choices with the material they're given. And not just choices, but ones that are appropriate for television or film, which is what I am always casting for. It's great for me to come to her class and meet people who are ready to walk on to a set."
Katja was the Co-Casting Director for NBC's "30 ROCK" and eventually she won an Emmy for the show. Together we taught AGR's the in's and out's of the business and helped students hone their audition technique. When 30 ROCK ended, Katja teamed up with Jessica Daniels at Blichfeld/Daniels Casting and worked on "The Carrie Diaries." Throughout her tenure as a casting director Katja hired dozens of AGR's "30 ROCK", "The Carrie Diaries" and more. A few years ago, Katja got the itch to write and create a web series with her husband/actor/writer Ben Sinclair. They penned the web series High Maintenance which soon become a hit amongst viewers. Katja hired AGR'rs Bettina Bilger, Rosalie Tenseth, Max Jenkins, Lyman Chen, Shezi Sardar, Tonya Glanz, Jen Kwok and Tijuana Ricks, most of who she met at AGR. (Katja also hired Rosalie and Max for "30 ROCK" before HM. Max went on to book a Series Regular on NBC's "The Mysteries of Laura"). *I recommended Bettina and Rosalie to Katja after a 1AM email I received from her asking for ideas. Of course I was awake too :) Katja's nickname became "KAD" (Katja After Dark)
Katja and Ben released the initial episodes of High Maintenance free of charge. It quickly became a cult favorite among fans. Vimeo then partnered with them to release Season 2 exclusively for the Vimeo On Demand platform as Vimeo’s first ever original series. Since its 2014 debut, High Maintenance has become one of the all-time top-selling releases for Vimeo On Demand, and also has garnered strong reviews. TheHigh Maintenance web series also earned Blichfeld and Sinclair a WGA award for their episode “Rachel.”
Today...HBO announced it picked up the series and ordered 6 episodes. The prior 19 will be released as well. This means that all my AGR'rs will now be seen on HBO and will gain massive exposure. Said AGR'rs have MAJOR roles in "High Maintenance."
"If you build it, they will come" applies to everyone - not just actors. It is SO important to create from your heart and follow your passion. It is essential to create your own opportunities, forge relationships and meet the industry. You never know what will happen when. Make smart choices, put yourself out there, optimize your marketability and NEVER underestimate the power of any interaction you have. You may just end up in the hottest new series to hit HBO.
So proud of you, Katja. Can't wait to teach together again soon.
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