Hannibal native Santana Dempsey, the daughter of attorneys Terrell and Vicki Dempsey, has been cast in the 2013 Disney/ABC Talent Showcase in Los Angeles. Disney/ABC Television group’s casting department is hosting this 29th annual Talent showcase, which will be taped today, Oct. 29, at the El Portal Theatre in Los Angeles.
More than 7,000 aspiring actors entered the competition. Then more than 500 were asked to audition, and Dempsey was among the 20 who were chosen.
During a phone interview from her home in Los Angeles, Dempsey said her parents “are ecstatic” about her career. “They are so excited.” Her parents formerly lived in Hannibal and now live in Quincy, Ill., while operating their law firm in both cities.
In the Talent Showcase, Dempsey called the audition process “really challenging. The audition process took two months. We auditioned seven or eight times, for five to eight hours a day. It was a very grueling but fun audition process. ... They chose our partners, based on chemistry that each partner had with each other. We read with almost everyone.”
She and her partner, Wade Allain-Marcus, both are of mixed race descent and got their start in New York City.
“All will be on the show,” Dempsey said. “We will be doing about three- to five-minute vignettes, and it will make up an entire one night’s show.
It is really exclusive. ... They told us we are filming it live.” Executives from all the networks are invited, she added. “Casting directors are invited, producers, agents and managers.”
Later all 20 actors will be assigned a network executive from the casting department, who will act as their mentor throughout the year. The actors will also audition for ABC Entertainment Group’s current series and pilots.
Dempsey graduated from the University of Missouri with a bachelor of arts in theater performance. She is currently represented by Nathan Habben of Prestige Talent Agency and Moria Goodwin of Active Management.
‘A dream come true’
“It is a dream come true getting the chance to work so closely with ABC,” said Dempsey. “ABC is one of my favorite networks. I am so honored to have the opportunity to showcase my talent and am grateful ABC believes in me. Hard work and perseverance does pay off.
“The thing most people might not realize about me is how hard and long I have been struggling as an actor,” she said. “I was super close to quitting this past summer - first time ever.
“Everything seemed to be against me and I was scared of not succeeding. I’ve felt it before, but when you aren’t in a great place the instability of not knowing when your next job will come becomes brutal. At the end of the day, I have learned to get out of my own way and trust in myself, because I too deserve to be seen.”
Page 2 of 2 - Dempsey recently had an audition for a part on the TV series Grey’s Anatomy and had a “call back” for the part. She had not yet learned the outcome by Oct. 25.
Her previous acting jobs included a part in an off-Broadway experimental theater and several commercials.
One commercial was for a Starbucks cappuccino, and it was played for two and a half years before ending in May. It was aired during the Super Bowl and basketball play-offs, she said.
She also did an MTV promo for MTV Car Heroes.
Dempsey was a host for a video, Read 180, for Scholastics, for students in grades four through eight. She was pleased to do this because, “my sister, Gayla, teaches in Jeff City. She taught at Mark Twain in Hannibal for several years.”
Although Santana Dempsey lived in New York for several years, she believes she belongs in Los Angeles. “New York is beautiful and cultured, and it is a great city,” she said, “but in L.A. I am healthier as a person.
“And in L.A. everything is entertainment industry-related. In L.A. most people come here to be in entertainment, not just actors, also producers and directors. ... They go to New York to be business people. I found myself in New York, but I am actually living as myself in L.A.”
For more information about Dempsey see santanadempsey.com or follow her on Twitter, @SantanaDempsey.