Meet the woman who finds Chicago's best acting talent

It would be so cool to get a part on ‘Empire,’ or any of the other network shows and films being shot in Chicago.

CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) - It would be so cool to get a part on ‘Empire,’ or any of the other network shows and films being shot in Chicago.

Well, a bunch of Chicagoans have been able to do that, thanks to a woman who casts many of the speaking roles for those shows.

FOX 32 sat down with Claire Simon and asked one of the stars for her original audition tape, to get an idea of what it takes to get on ‘Empire.’

Simon has been shining a spotlight on Chicago actors for nearly two decades, casting people for movies and now, the top network shows shot in Chicago.

"I do the casting for Chicago PD, Chicago Fire and Empire. So, to have three shows that I’m working on every single day, every single week from July to April is amazing."

So amazing that she casts more than 100 actors every season.

On Empire, she cast Grace Gealey, aka Anika or Boo Boo Kitty. And she gave Bunky his shot at stardom.

And then, there's Chicago’s own Ta'Rhonda Jones, who’s a rapper who was originally called to play one.

"Ta’Rhonda came in and she wasn't what we were looking for for that role. But she was so amazing and so naturally talented," Simon said.

And if you want a part on Empire, be ready and be real.

"Especially with Empire, I find they want it small, small, small. Real, real, real. So any inkling of acting or anything like that gets thrown out the door right away," Simon said. "Just come in and do the best you can and just enjoy that process and then let it go."

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