Cassandra Presume, 16, wants to be an actor.
Participating in her school’s theatrical projects is one thing. Positioning herself to be noticed by talent agents is another. Forget the movie clichés; there’s no easy or inexpensive way to do this.
Cassandra, a resident of Cobblestone Farms, took six months of courses at a Barbizon Modeling and Acting School to aim for her real goal. That is a shot at the International Modeling & Talent Agency.
“It’s to get yourself out there to a lot of agents, and they’ll call back if you appeal to them,” Cassandra said. “It could open up a lot of jobs.”
“A lot of well-known actresses have gone through this,” said her mother Antonia Presume. “It’s like a first step.”
IMTA touts a long list of famous former clients since 1987, like Eva Longoria and Elijah Wood, Katie Holmes and Josh Duhamal, Ashton Kutcher and Jessica Biel. The agency says it puts its top talent in front of agents, casting directors and producers. But to get there, the talent has to pay for training.
In Cassandra’s case, it was mostly presentation skills. Barbizon taught auditioning etiquette and makeup, runway walking, commercial modeling versus high-end modeling. She took the courses while attending her regular classes at Mountain Pointe High School in Ahwatukee.
“I think it helped a lot with my confidence, and I made a couple of new friends,” she said. “It was nice to know some people that have the same goals as you and would understand the type of work you have to put in.”
In school she has been part of the MP Theatre Company. This year, she has performed in The Adding Machine, Almost, Maine and a one-act play. For Fences, she was chief of the costume crew. Since sixth grade, she has been involved in children’s theatrical programs and was even part of a Disney-sponsored program.
Now that she is finished with Barbizon training, Cassandra is trying to raise or save $6,000 to go to the IMTA training for four days in New York in July. There, the acting competitions include cold reads, monologues and TV commercials.
“They have jean competitions, where you get to show off a pair of jeans,” Cassandra said with a grin. “I don’t think height matters, so I’m excited for that one.”
“And there are a lot of workshops, so every time you step out, you’re in front of a lot of agents,” Antonia Presume said.
She said the family has supported Cassandra’s ambitions “because we figured it would be great for her to have the confidence, and also public speaking. So, we put a spin of education on it as well. Whenever she goes auditioning, to us it adds value to her education.”
The Presumes have lived in Maricopa since 2006, moving to Arizona from Massachusetts. Cassandra’s father Garry works for Intel. She has a twin brother and two older brothers, one of whom attended Maricopa High School.
Antonia Presume also said any work her daughter lands could help pay for her college. “Education for us is No. 1,” she said. “They won’t allow you to take classes if your grades suffer. That’s one of the things we liked about the program.”
To help raise money for the July trip, Antonia has been selling gift baskets. She took out a business license for Joia Baskets because of the number of orders she has received. IMTA also provides fund-raising help through flat-screen TVs, laptops and iPads that families can raffle off, with the parents receiving all proceeds. They also offer tips for how to approach local businesses, something that is not in Antonia’s comfort zone.
She intends to travel with Cassandra on the July trip to make sure she’s safe. “Especially with what we see nowadays, I’m going to New York with her. I’m going to watch my child every step of the way.”