Rob Decina '94
Casting director, Guiding Light; Adjunct professor, Pace University; Author
When Rob auditions actors for Guiding Light, he draws on his varied
experience as a theatre artist.
Foundations/Motivations: Minored in theatre but uncertain of direction
Experiences: Gained exposure to many aspects of theatre at Sarah Lawrence
Results: Has become casting director, teacher, artistic director, producer, and author
Rob Decina didn’t discover theatre until college. He ended up with a minor in theatre, but knew he needed more experience. After he graduated from Pace University, he spent a year learning more about the professional theatre world, getting involved in small productions, looking into various graduate theatre programs, and holding odd jobs to get by. “I didn’t know what I wanted to do, whether I wanted to be an actor or director or a writer,” Rob says. “I discovered Sarah Lawrence was a place that allowed you to do all of those things.”
B.A., Communications and Literature, Theatre minor, Pace University (1991)
By the time he arrived at Sarah Lawrence, Rob had decided he wanted to direct, but still wanted exposure to other aspects of theatre. So he took a playwriting class. He took acting classes and directing classes. He acted in and directed productions. He was a producer at DownStage, the student-run space. “It was about being a theatre artist with a focus on what you wanted to do,” he says. He took as many classes as he could with Paul Austin, his mentor. “I teach now,” Rob says, “and I take him out to dinner and tell him I’m teaching the things he taught me.”
In his final semester, Rob wanted an internship that would be outside the theatre, since he already had a lot of that experience under his belt. Shirley Kaplan, director of the program, suggested he try casting and helped him get a position with Billy Hopkins Casting. “That internship really gave me my first sense of what my future was going to be,” Rob says.
After two directing internships and work as both a director and assistant director on numerous projects, Rob focused his efforts on casting. At Warner Bros. Television, he worked on dozens of prime-time shows, including The West Wing. For the past four-and-a-half years, he’s been casting director for the daytime drama Guiding Light, auditioning thousands of actors a year and winning a 2004 Emmy nomination. True to the Sarah Lawrence spirit, casting isn’t all he does. He also teaches. He’s artistic director and producer for an annual young playwrights festival. And he recently finished his first book, The Art of Auditioning. “It all gets back to why I wanted to go to Sarah Lawrence—because I didn’t want to do just one thing,” he says.
M.F.A., Theatre, Sarah Lawrence (1994)
- Casting director, Guiding Light (1999–present)
- Adjunct professor of communications, Pace University (2002–present)
- Teacher, TVI Actors Studio (1999–present)
- Artistic director and producer, Young Connecticut Playwrights Festival and the Maxwell Anderson Playwrights Series (1996–present)
- Author, The Art of Auditioning (Allworth Press, 2004)
- Associate casting director, Warner Bros. Television, New York (1997–99)
- Freelance theatre director (1994–2000)
- Freelance casting assistant (1994–97)
- Directing intern, the Juilliard School (Drama Division) (1994–95)
- Directing intern, Berkshire Theatre Festival (Summer 1994)