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Conversations with Atlanta's Movers and Shakers, Marlo Tiede

Head of Film and TV at Stilwell Casting, Marlo Tiede

A few weeks ago, we were fortunate to have a conversation with Marlo Tiede, Head of Film and TV at Stilwell Casting.

Marlo started her journey in casting right out of college as an intern on TNT’s The Closer. Afterward, she took a leap of faith to become a Casting Assistant and moved up to Associate and Casting Director. Marlo lived in Los Angeles for the majority of her career. After working as an Independent Casting Director for a few years, she joined Disney as a Television Executive working as Manager of Casting for the studio and network Freeform, previously ABC Family. Once the pandemic hit, Marlo and her husband decided to move cross country to Atlanta. In January 2021, Marlo began working at Stilwell Casting to start a new department as the Head of Film and Television.

Marlo shares takes us on her journey, from where she started, to where she is now.

Marlo Tiede: "I was a Performance major at CalState, Long Beach, and I HATED auditioning for things! It was my worst fear. Everything about it was stressful and was the cause of a lot of anxiety. I talked to the head of the department, and I said, 'I don’t want to audition again!' She told me I had to fulfill so many things, being a performance major. I wasn’t going to do stagecraft, and I didn’t want to do costumes or stage management. So, I stayed in performance, and the compromise was I helped cast with the director and the heads of the department for the different theater productions throughout the year. This was the first time casting was brought to my attention as a thing that existed. It’s not that I didn’t put two and two together and thought somebody has to facilitate actors getting on screen. When you go to school, casting is rarely talked about, let alone if there is any education that teaches you the art of casting."

"Once casting was brought to my attention, I loved it! Casting gives me the freedom in the audition to act and support the talent but with no fear of rejection! It is the best of everything, and it’s opinion-driven, where half my job is convincing others that these actors are good choices. It is also 50/50 business because I have to negotiate deals and know all the contracts, so it is not strictly where I am playing with actors all day."

- Marlo Tiede

"I lived in Los Angeles until 2020, and worked eleven years primarily for one Casting Director who heavily mentored me in my journey,Donna Rosentein, head of casting at Amazon Studios. She gave me a lot of proxy to learn this craft, and a lot of leeway to figure out my taste and to know all the different contracts and deal points. Donna wanted me to negotiate things, probably before I should have, but felt it was important I learn the skill sets. I tip my hat to Donna because I am sure it wasn’t easy for her to give up that much power, but she did. With that experience, I grew as a Casting Director, and I am better because of that."

Atlanta Film and TV: Did your parents recognize your gift of the arts early on and if so, how did they nourish your gift to facilitate growth?

Marlo Tiede:I wanted to be a Marine Biologist until I was a senior in high school. I took an acting class as an elective during my senior year, and I thought, 'this is great! I love being in the arts!' My parents never questioned my decision once I shifted my path. My dad was a banker, and my mother was a flight attendant. My parents not questioning my decision, was their form of support. Most parents of artists ask, ‘do you really want to do that?’ Or, there are a lot of questions and parents not supporting their choices. My parents had no idea what I was doing, but they were excited for me. I think they were happy I found something I enjoyed. That path led to meeting my husband in college, and in hindsight, they were always supportive and never questioned why I wanted to change my major. If you were to ask my mom what network I worked for, she could not tell you! But my parents always support me and say, ‘yeah! She’s a Casting Director!' "

Atlanta Film and TV: Why Casting, and what gets you excited about it?

Marlo Tiede: "Casting is middle management, where I am moving information from one person to the next and negotiating. Casting is a fascinating process in a cog, which is movie and television making. I found my niche in Episodic casting. I love getting a script and having my own ideas. Casting Directors put it out there for Agents and Managers to pitch their ideas. I love the idea of somebody saying, ‘I know this is totally out of the box. But, would you be willing to see this person? I know this is a crazy idea, but I think they would be great.' And, of course, I would say, ‘yes!' I enjoy taking a leap of faith. One of the things I missed when I was at Freeform was one-on-one with actors. I think actors are interesting people, and I respect anyone willing to put themselves out there physically and emotionally to be a vessel of these characters.

One of the things I liked to do when I was an executive was sit down with actors and learn about them. A big thing I am a supporter of is performers with disabilities. When I was at Freeform, diversity and inclusion was something I pushed on the shows I covered. It was a way to say, ‘we need to start giving these people opportunities,’ which is the only thing that would make this feel organic and allow performers with disabilities to audition for anything. If there is an open role, and casting is willing to see anyone, then those with disabilities should be invited to the table! I pushed the idea at Freeform that if we speak about diversity and inclusion and have everybody invited to the table, then we cannot ignore a whole community. It is a circle of giving opportunities, that's what it should be."

Atlanta Film and TV: If I could ask 18 year old Marlo about where you are now in life, what would you least likely believe to be true?

Marlo Tiede: "I would least likely believe I would be in Atlanta. At eighteen, I did not know casting was a career path. Once I learned about casting, it was clear that you should be in LA or New York. If you were to ask me five years ago if I thought I would still be in Los Angeles, I would say, ‘yes!’ "

Marlo shares with us her favorite project from the past.

"My favorite show I cast and enjoyed was Necessary Roughness, which was on the USA Network and shot in Atlanta. I am a huge sports fan. I enjoyed casting for this not only because of the sports cameos. But it was awesome to cast people that had to portray certain athletic types and it was fun being able to say “oh yeah he looks like a Linebacker, or they are too short to be a Power Forward.”

- Marlo Tiede

Atlanta Film and TV: Can you share the history behind Stilwell Casting?

Marlo Tiede: "Annette Stilwell is the owner and founder of Stilwell Casting, and it’s been in business for over forty years. Annette is a hyphen. She did casting and producing. Annette is an OG mover and shaker and has been in the entertainment business for a long time here in Atlanta! Eventually, Annette shifted from casting films to strictly casting commercials.

Owner and Founder of Stilwell Casting, Annette Stilwell