Casting for Girls Trip During Essence Fest

JULY 2, 2018

Girls Trip filmed in New Orleans during the Essence Festival in the summer of 2016. With Essence Fest returning to New Orleans this week, we thought we'd take a look back at casting this box office smash.

Girls Trip stars Regina Hall, Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett Smith, and Central Casting alum Tiffany Haddish as best friends who travel to New Orleans for Essence Festival. The film was an instant hit and served as a breakout role for Haddish.

Much of the film centers around the Essence Festival, a music and culture event hosted by Essence Magazine that happens every year in New Orleans. Director Malcolm Lee wanted to film scenes during the real Essence Fest, which provided some challenges while shooting.

"There's not much you can control when you're at the concerts or real events of Essence Fest," Casting Director Mary said. "We found a great group of Background Actors to create a buffer around the actors filming the scenes to make sure the directors and producers got exactly what they wanted out of this film while staying true to the Essence Festival."

While there were many fun parts about casting the movie, Mary's favorite was that it was set and filmed in New Orleans. The casting team cast several local performers, including human statues, drummers, the Rebirth Brass Band, and Lady Buckjumpers.

"New Orleans is a fun and vibrant city, there's a feeling you get walking through the streets that you don't get in any other city in the world," Mary said. "So it's amazing to be able to show the world and show the audience how fun of a city New Orleans can be."

Central Casting Louisiana cast over 5,000 Background Actors for the film, often with more than 100 booked per day. Despite the summer heat, Background Actors loved working on the film.

"Getting to watch our Background Actors get some amazing screen time was also a great experience for me and for them," Mary said. "We've been getting a lot of calls from our Background Actors who are really excited to see themselves on the big screen. We could not have done this movie without all of our amazing Background Actors working on this film. They really made sure to put the extra effort in creating the fun and vibrant city of New Orleans."

Want a chance to work on a project filmed in New Orleans? All you need to do is register as a Background Actor at Central Casting Louisiana and you'll be eligible to be cast in our movies and TV shows.

For more casting stories from Casting Directors, check out Elana's thoughts on casting Scandal and Alyssa's experience casting Avengers: Infinity War.

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By Mary H.

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Casting Directors