RTL Group, Executive Vice President Corporate Communications & Marketing
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Subject: Society, Media & Services
Among the hundreds of thousands of refugees who have come to Germany in the past year, especially from Syria, are people from pretty much every profession, including actors. UFA hosted a "Newcomer Casting" at the Babelsberg studios in Potsdam especially for them, because the topic of refugees has long since entered the storylines of many daily series as well.
The "Newcomer Casting" initiative came from actress Meike Schlüter, who played the inspector in the 6,000th episode of the RTL series "Gute Zeiten, schlechte Zeiten." A fellow actress, Michaela Wiebusch, had worked with Syrian actresses in the past, which is how the idea of organizing auditions for the young talents at UFA was born. Another initiator was Frank Alva Buecheler, a stage director and Chairman of Freeartus, a charitable non-profit organization dedicated to using art to build bridges between the different cultures of refugees, immigrants and locals.
UFA invited a total of seven actors and actresses to its "Newcomer Casting." "GZSZ" actress Lea Marlen Woitack and her fellow cast members Ulrike Frank and Wolfgang Bahro partnered them in the short scenes. The young talents – who came from Syria but also from other countries like Kosovo – were coached by Michaela Wiebusch, who rehearsed the scenes with them beforehand. "As an actress, I can understand what it must be like when you can no longer work in your own language – it's a nightmare," says Wiebusch in a video to accompany the auditions, which we have integrated in this article. "So I’m all the more impressed with how far these actors have already come after just a couple of months."
The footage from the auditions has been added to the UFA database, to give the seven participants an opportunity to be cast in all UFA productions.