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Kathleen Howes stands in her sister’s apartment talking to a friend.

Howes, leaning casually against the doorframe, informs her buddy that no, in fact it isn’t acceptable to throw a guy into the stands during a co-ed soccer game. She might need another date to the dance.

Sound like a conversation out of a sitcom? It might be.

It’s the one minute spot that won Howes a front-and-center spot on a brand new casting website that’s yielded several offers from producers, casting agencies and agents.

The Santa Monica High School junior is one of 20 people out of approximately 1,500 selected by three casting agents as a featured talent for Starcast Auditions, a website created by industry professionals to introduce top talent to Hollywood.

It was a surprise for Howes, who had submitted her video on a whim after her acting teacher, John Ruskin, suggested she give the site a try.

“I saw myself and it was cool, it felt good,” Howes said.

Howes and her family moved to Santa Monica a year ago on a spur of the moment decision. Her sister Catelyn, recently graduated from New York University, came to California and the rest of the family packed up their Atlanta home in three weeks and followed.

It was quite a switch for Kathleen.

Though she has no accent, Howes was a Georgia girl. She’d only attended small private schools, and transitioning to Samohi, with its 3,500-member student body, was something of a shock.

She needed an activity, something to help ease her way into her new life. What she had was talent.

“She’s a type,” said Gary Beer, founder of Starcast Auditions. “More importantly than that, she nailed it. We were looking to catch a medium shot of the actor, and she was captivating.”

Uncovering talent like Kathleen is why Beer created Starcast Auditions. The site sets itself apart from normal listing services because professional casting agents review and give direction to the submitters. The few that are chosen to be featured are put up on the website every two weeks, when a new round of tapes is reviewed.

The service will be free until April, while Beer and his partners build a reputation and trust within the industry. After it’s proven, the team will put in a pay wall.

“It’s so different from anything else that’s out there, and we wanted to build credibility in the acting community,” Beer said. “We really need to have a credible group of best performers.”

It’s a godsend for actors like Howes, who have the chops but no credentials in the television or movie fields to back them up.

Howes honed her acting skills as a youth working with a company that traveled to inner-city schools to perform instructional skits like Aesop’s Fables to pre-schoolers and kindergarteners. As a result, much of her experience comes in the musical and stage field.

Switching it up for a television camera presented a challenge.

“It’s completely different than what I’ve done so far,” Howes said. “When I’m doing theater, it takes a while to develop a character because you’re making it more animated. You have to deal with the blocking you’re given, and work as an ensemble.”

Acting for the camera requires subtlety and a natural quality that comes off too understated for the stage.

It’s something she’s been drilling with her new coach, Ruskin, who acted as an advisor to the Starcast team when Beer and his counterparts were still developing it.

Ruskin introduced Howes to Starcast, and encouraged her to send in her winning video.

Despite her success, Howes feels she can improve from the submission for Starcast. That tape has already earned her a number of auditions and looks for parts in films and television.

“I didn’t think I did my best, but it was fine,” she said.

ashley@www.smdp.com

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