x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Take One: and then cast him or her into a star

Unlike other casting houses, Sarah Abdullah has a hands on approach and even takes to the streets in search for the perfect fit for her auditions.

When Kalthoum Ahmad began reading the script, she was obviously nervous and intimidated.

The Sudanese actress, who has both theatre and film experience, was among the hopefuls to turn up during three days of auditioning this week for the feature-length Emirati horror film, The Jinn.

"Don't worry, you're doing great," said Sarah Abdullah, the 29-year-old owner of Take One Casting in Dubai. "But try doing it like this." She immediately put Mrs Ahmad at ease, which was evident in her next, more successful delivery - all part of Ms Abdullah's goals for the process.

"Those who come in for the casting bring their lives into this room," she said. "And for that I am truly blessed."

Ms Abdullah created a production department while at Leo Burnett Dubai for eight years and opened her agency in October 2008. More than two years on, Take One is casting for television, film, commercials and models.

Ms Abdullah has cast actors for a number of clients including Etisalat, Du, Lifebuoy, Saudi Arabia's Mobily and Saudi Telecom. She has also donated her services for various causes, among them producing a television campaign against human trafficking.

"Take One is a one-stop shop for any production house looking for actors," Ms Abdullah said. "Where other casting companies wait for people to walk in through the door, I am very much hands on and hit the streets looking for people who I think would be perfect for a particular role."

Such was the case when Chevrolet contacted Take One two years ago looking for two Japanese men to play the part of Hiroshi and Osamu for their Cruze campaign.

She went to a local mall and spotted the Japanese man she later hired. I explained to him that I owned a casting company and wanted him to be an actor," she said. "He said he was here in Dubai on vacation and didn't have time.

"I kept at him and convinced him to get into my car, which he was scared to do, but I had to because I was afraid he wouldn't answer when I called him.

"I took him to the agency and cast him for the role and he ended up being perfect for it. He signed on with my agency and got the part of Osamu. The campaign lasted for two years, he got an amazing contract. He is now a celebrity in Japan.