Casting Your Video: Actors vs. Employees

April 9, 2018

You may find yourself in this predicament when prepping for your video shoot: should I hire talent to be on screen for us or use our team members? This is no easy decision so we’ve compiled a few helpful questions and points to consider in casting your video.


This one is somewhat obvious but should be assessed, nonetheless. Usually your team members will be less expensive, but that is not always the case. We have had clients of ours at Waves that would have had to pay thousands of dollars to get remote team members in for a shoot. If your team is local and already on payroll, this is most often not the case. However, take this into consideration, and ensure the actual cost of either option before casting.

A couple of extra points you want to take into account are:

  1. Will actors be more efficient in delivery, thus saving money in production time?
  2. Actors will more than likely be able to deliver quickly, and don’t usually charge for practice (ahead of the shoot), whereas employees may.
  3. Team members could be doing something else during production time instead of eating up company time for a shoot.


Professional actors will more than likely be able to get you an authentic feel (depending on their level of quality, of course). And this is important. Team members may or may not be able to. Nerves and trying to compensate for their lack of on-camera experience could produce either a too-low or too-high energy level.

On the other hand, your team is probably seen and known as actual members of your company (particularly when your brand is smaller), and this may garner an affection from viewers that money can’t buy. Is there someone on your team with a real great presence on camera, or a fun personality or unique style? Cash in on that — it creates a persona for your brand, and boosts relatability.


Style or genre of your video is perhaps the biggest point to consider here. If you are creating a more dramatic commercial or attempting humor, your safest bet will be pros. They can deliver on the super important nuances film/video picks up, the slightest facial expressions, timing needed, and adjusting energy accordingly. This is far more difficult than people realize. Even people with live-theater experience often struggle delivering well on camera. It takes practice and skill, for sure. Here’s a spot we did for American Well that definitely needed pros at the helm.

Amwell Behavioral Health from Waves Media on Vimeo.

But if your style is instead that of a conversational piece or something that may just require a teleprompter, consider your team members for all the benefits aforementioned. The subject may be specific to your story that to have someone else tell it will ruin it and not even make sense. For instance, here’s a piece we did with Toyota that only worked because it was told by people involved in the situation, as with most documentaries.

Toyota and the LA DOT Initiative from Waves Media on Vimeo.


Hopefully, these few tips help aid your decision making process in pre-production for your next project. Identify your video’s goals, overall budget, as well as your brand’s desired image. If you cast according to these and who can deliver on them the best, you’re sure to have a much easier (and effective) shoot day.

(This blog was updated in 2024.)