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Netflix Sets Up In-house Casting Unit

Netflix's casting team
From left to right, Netflix's new casting hires include Brittany Grooms, Rich Leist and Cesar Rocha (Image credit: Netflix)

Netflix has announced the hiring of a new executive team charged with centralizing and optimizing casting for its original shows. 

Netflix will still allow its high-priced producers to choose what talent appears in their movies and series. And it will still rely on outside casting agencies to fill its onscreen ranks. But the new team will act as a kind of clearinghouse, ensuring that Netflix's diversity and inclusion goals are met, and also making sure that hot talents appearing across the streaming service's global footprint are put to work in the most efficient way. 

"We want to discover new and authentic voices from underrepresented communities, and help our existing talent find their next great opportunity with us," Netflix said in a company blog post published Wednesday. 

The hires include Brittany Grooms, who moves from Sony Pictures Entertainment to handle casting for Netflix original films, and Rich Leist, a former All3Media America casting executive who will now handle Netflix's unscripted programming talent. Both joined the ranks over the spring.

Meanwhile, former CBS casting executive Cesar Rocha, who has overseen talent for Netflix's locally produced non-English-language international shows since 2019, will now ply his knowledge of Netflix's global talent base to oversee casting for domestic original series. 

Finally, on the animation side, Shiondre Austin, a former Nickelodeon executive, will handle voice casting for animated original series; and Cymbre Sklar, an ex DreamWorks Animation operative, will handle casting for animated films. 

"Over the years, some of our talent have been able to seamlessly move across Netflix projects--think Never Have I Ever’s Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, who is starring in our upcoming film The Netherfield Girls, and Stranger Things’ Gaten Matarazzo, who hosts and executive produces Prank Encounters," Netflix's blog added. 

"Our new casting department means that we will have more time and resources dedicated to identifying these kinds of opportunities -- finding breakouts like Alejandro Speitzer, who has worked on three of our Mexican local language series, El ClubDark Desire and Someone Has to Die and Pearl Thusi, who’s gone from our South African series Queen Sono to our upcoming film Wu Assassins: Fists of Vengeance."