Marty Keener Cherrix
Marty Keener Cherrix became interested in the film industry in 1990 with the premiere of the feature film, The Last of the Mohicans, which shot in Western North Carolina. At the time she was well into the eighth year of her advertising sales position and like many others, wanted more out of her work. Marty’s job dissatisfaction proved to be the catalyst that would compel her to abandon traditional job security, and begin her career anew. She decided to make the move from the real world to the reel world.
There was just one problem: she did not have any industry insider contacts and Western North Carolina was not a filmmaking center like LA or NY. Forced to find creative ways to build relationships, Marty contacted the local film commission and attended regular monthly meetings. She introduced herself to other like-minded locals who were working in film and commercials. “This is a business of contacts,” says Marty. “The person with the best contacts wins.”
Persistence paid off with an opportunity to work on a low-budget, independent film. “Because I didn’t know all of the departments associated with behind-the-scenes filmmaking, I decided to leverage my secretarial skills in the production office,” Marty says. “I answered phones and multitasked in other departments. Eventually, I was asked to make casting calls to people working as paid extras.”
That brief foray into movie making eventually led to a decision to move from the Production Office into Casting full-time. “I paid close attention and learned all I could about every department. I looked around and asked myself which one would give me a direct, creative challenge. Casting is unique because you get to see the immediate results of your work in the faces and performances of actors and extras,” adds Cherrix.
In 1994, a lucky break came when Marty was hired to work as a Casting Assistant on the feature film, Something To Talk About, starring Julia Roberts and Dennis Quaid. “I was lucky to start my casting work with a Casting Director who was already a seasoned, casting veteran,” says Marty. “I put myself in the position to be mentored by industry giants. I asked questions, took notes and gleaned every ounce of wisdom they were willing to share.” I had a unique opportunity to develop the keen eye of a Casting Director.”
Marty was inspired by the experience gained on that first film and it prompted her to continue her efforts in Casting. She worked as a Casting Assistant on two more films, and steadily rose among the ranks as a Casting Associate. She eventually landed work as an Extras Casting Director and ultimately made the jump to Location Casting Director on such films as: The Cider House Rules, Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, Domestic Disturbance, Chocolat, Charlie and The Chocolate Factory and more recently, All The King’s Men, and soon to be released films, The Reaping and Into The Wild.
But Marty’s career was about to take on an exciting new dimension. Gaining recognition for her ability to spot talent and potential in children, she started getting calls to do talent searches for kids to act in films like: Peter Pan, The Cider House Rules, Chocolat and The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood. “I had to develop strategies for not only finding them, but also helping them deliver an unaffected performance…children are natural pretenders and when you relate to them in a way that they understand, the results are extraordinary.”
As her work continued, she was astounded by the amount of untapped talent that exists outside of Los Angeles and New York. “Consider this,” Marty says. ” If the talent base for kids exists solely in those bigger markets, then how is it a girl from Western North Carolina routinely gets hired to help feature film companies find the next bright star?”