Josh Einsohn graduated cum laude from Washington University in St. Louis in 1994. He ended his senior year by directing two one-act plays that won the A.E. Hotchner Playwriting Competition. The boost in confidence and creativity that it gave him, along with the encouragement from his advisors, AnneMarie Costa, Henry Schvey, Professor of Drama and Anna Pileggi, Professor of Practice in Drama, got him out the door and prepared to jump into the Entertainment Industry. “I can't say enough how much being in the P.A.D. helped steer my entire life,” said Einsohn. Originally a psychology major, it was AnneMarie Costa, former PAD Artist in Residence and Coordinator of Acting and Directing who pointed out that he'd taken so many electives he might want to consider a minor in Drama, which of course led to the major.
Einsohn credits Jeffery Matthews, Professor of Practice in Drama, the most for the trajectory of his career. It was Matthews who pulled him aside his senior year and said of Einsohn’s directing work, "I know what you're trying to do on the stage a lot of the time, and I think what you really need is a camera and an editor. Have you ever thought about going to Hollywood after graduation?" For the first time in Einsohn’s life, he didn't have a plan, so he thought, “I might as well try it.” Looking back Matthews says, “It was clear to me that Josh was super smart guy who had a very finely tuned director's eye. I just sensed that his vision was best served through the vehicle of a camera.”
Einsohn’s dad had gone to high school with the actor Tommy Lee Jones, and he'd met him his senior year of high school. Four years later, with Matthew’s question in mind he wrote a letter to Jones and sent it off. Einsohn had heard that Jones was starring in, and directing, a script he'd written based on a Western novel. "Lonesome Dove is still one of the best things I've ever seen,” said Einsohn. While he hoped to have the chance to work with Jones on a project in a similar vein, he never truly expected to hear back from him. Instead, three days after Tommy Lee Jones won his Oscar for The Fugitive, Einsohn received a call from a producer on The Good Old Boys saying she was told by Jones to offer him a job. “I was super excited, of course, but I think it's only now, in retrospect, that I truly appreciate how rare and kind it was for him to do that kindness” said Einsohn.
Einsohn ended up working as a production assistant for a few years on a number of projects from Bottle Rocket to Alien: Resurrection. He worked in the production office on Contact (instead of on set) where he first met the casting directors, Victoria Burrows and Scot Boland. According to Einsohn it seemed they were always having so much fun, and he was fascinated by their creative input and how much they got to help shape the movie. According to Einsohn, he'll never forget the expression on Victoria's face when she found out that they were going to cast a young, up-and-coming actor named Matthew McConaughey to star opposite Jodie Foster.
Sometime later, Einsohn decided that production was not going to be a long-term fit and decided to start all over again and pursue casting. Burrows and Boland happened to need someone and gave him a shot. He started as an intern and quickly got promoted to assistant on The Polar Express. But when he was hired to be the casting associate on his then-and-always favorite show, The West Wing, Einsohn found that his true love is casting episodic television. “There is something about the way an audience builds a relationship with the characters over a long period of time that just can't be found elsewhere,” says Einsohn. As an associate, he worked on everything from Mad Men to Fast Five to Community, which is the project where he was promoted to casting director. Einsohn says that he usually doesn't have a lot of time to help an actor craft a performance that could land them the job, and finds himself using Anna Pileggi's combination of humor and directness to shape an audition quickly without being unkind.
In 2014 Einsohn went out on his own and almost immediately landed his first solo network show to cast, NBC's Marry Me. However, most casting directors work in pairs, and it became evident to Einsohn that if he wanted to get back to working on the classiest sorts of projects again he would need to be working with someone else. He knew Bernie Telsey (founder of Telsey + Co.) and Tiffany Little Canfield from his time as the L.A. associate on the Smash pilot. He happened to be working next door to her as she was talking about opening up a full-time Los Angeles office. “Luckily, they needed someone who knew the Los Angeles market, and they offered me a position.” Since joining them, it's been a dream situation for Einsohn, who has served as casting director on Atypical, One Day At A Time, Murphy Brown, Bluff City Law (reuniting him with Jimmy Smits), Black Monday, This Is Us and more.
“We were nominated for an Artios Award by the Casting Society of America for Atypical and twice for This Is Us, which is an amazing honor, coming from our Casting community,” says Einsohn, “especially during the competitive era of peak TV.” Einsohn is incredibly excited about Love, Victor the follow-up series to Love, Simon which will be coming soon to Hulu. “I was a marriage equality activist, so getting to tell a story about a young, Latinx kid who is struggling with his identity means the world to me,” says Einsohn, “Working on it combined my personal life passions and my professional life goals, and I know how lucky I am to have those two intersect.”
Einsohn is grateful and thankful and keenly aware of the lucky breaks he’s gotten that have led him to a place where he is actively using his drama major from Washington University's Performing Arts Department every day.
The Performing Arts Department will host a Virtual Visit with PAD Alum Josh Einsohn for the WashU Community. Hosted by Annamaria Pileggi, the event will take place on Friday, April 17 at 4 p.m. Central Time. Visit our events section for more information.