Published September 7, 2014
The Scranton Times-Tribune
Rosalie Joseph’s career shows taking a chance is worth the risk.
The Northeast Pennsylvania native is a successful casting director in New York City who left a teaching career to pursue acting in the Big Apple. That, in turn, led to a chance job opportunity assisting a casting director. The experience and resulting self-confidence kept her on a successful career path, one that’s also led to a number of charitible ventures.
Ms. Joseph is currently working on the new NBC series, “Mysteries of Laura,” which stars former “Will and Grace” star Debra Messing. The dramedy about an NYPD homicide detective working to solve cases as well as being a single mother of twins will premiere Sept. 24 at 8 p.m. on WBRE-TV, Channel 28.
Born and raised in Moosic, Ms. Joseph studied theater at Misericordia University. She started her career as a drama and communications teacher at Riverside Junior-Senior High School.
Pursuing her dream
Although there was nothing about teaching she didn’t love, she always felt there was something else she needed to do. So Ms. Joseph moved to New York City to pursue her original dream, acting.
“You do that when you’re young. You make sure you feed that part of you,” Ms. Joseph said of following her dream. But not without months of planning and saving, she added.
As she was spending her time working on off-Broadway shows, she received a call from a neighbor telling her of a casting director who needed someone to help for a few days. Even though she knew very little about the casting business, Ms. Joseph agreed to help out.
“I’ll never forget those first two days, I made the hugest blunders,” she said, laughing. “But I went to cover for someone for three days and I ended up staying for three years.”
Ms. Joseph started as Vic Ramos’ assistant and shortly after became his associate. After three years with him, she moved to CBS where she oversaw daytime production and eventually became a prime-time casting director, staying for six years.
She worked as an independent casting director for 10 years before heading to Los Angeles and a position with MTM during its rebuilding.
She had spent a year in California when ABC called with a proposition to return to the East Coast and be vice president of casting. Homesick for New York, she took the job. But in 2009, she left to be independent once again.
Coming from a family that was deeply involved with local charities, it was natural for Ms. Joseph to donate time to special causes. But 23 years ago, after participating in a Christmas party that provided gifts to families in need, Ms. Joseph knew she had to do more than just volunteer.
She remembered going home that night and being haunted by the looks on the parents’ faces as they collected toys for their children.
“Their dignity was compromised. It really bothered me,” she said.
Unable to get the thought out of her head, she decided to start her own organization to help families. Working with a friend, writer Tom Fontana, they came up with Stockings With Care an organization that helps thousands of families in the New York City area provide a joyous Christmas morning for their children. This past Christmas, the charity helped around 1,500 children.
“It is about as pure as you can get. There are no salaries. It is all volunteer.” Ms. Joseph said, emphasizing that Stockings With Care provides gifts to be given on Christmas morning, unlike other organizations that give gifts in the weeks preceding the holiday.
While most items on the children’s wish lists are easily attainable, sometimes there is something that is far more expensive than a volunteer can be expected to spend.
“If it is something that we think can change a child’s life, we make sure we get it,” Ms. Joseph said recounting the year one child asked for a saxophone. The organization was able to raise enough money to make sure that child woke up on Christmas morning with the one thing requested.
Besides the many volunteers in the area, Stockings With Care has been lucky enough to get help from famous actors as well.
In 2009, Tom Cruise was spending Christmas in New York and could not be more eager to help. He told the volunteers that, because he was raised by a struggling single mom, the organization was close to his heart. The actor got the famous New York City toy store FAO Schwarz to close its doors temporarily to the public so the volunteers could shop. He then donated enough to help out 500 more children on top of what Stockings With Care already had.
Out of Stockings With Care came Ms. Joseph’s second organization, First Day New York, which helps children get clothes and supplies for their first day of school.
On top of running both of those charities, Ms. Joseph is very involved in her community, Battery Park City, which she calls “the best small town in the Big Apple.”
Located across from where the World Trade Centers once stood, the community was severely impacted by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
After receiving help from outside groups to repair their community, the residents started Battery Park City Cares which helps other communities around the world affected by hurricanes, tsunamis and other disasters.
When she has downtime, Ms. Joseph enjoys spending time with her family here in NEPA and she offered some advice for residents of her hometown who have dreams of moving away.
“I think it doesn’t matter where you are but you have to follow a dream,” she said. “My advice would be just examine what you want and get support of people who love you and just try. It may not work out but that’s OK. … Maybe the life you are supposed to lead is right where you are.”
Meet Rosalie Joseph
Residence: Formerly of Moosic, she now lives in Battery Park City, Manhattan.
At Work: An independent casting director in Manhattan
Outside of Work: “Be with the people I love, nothing is better than that,” she said. She enjoys taking part in organizations and charities, spending time with her neighbors in Battery Park City and visiting her family in NEPA.
Current project: Working with Debra Messing on the NBC series, “Mysteries of Laura,” premiering Sept. 24 at 8 p.m.
Ms. Joseph’s casting director credits include:
“The Mysteries of Laura”
“Body of Proof”