2015 Honoree

Rene Haynes, Casting Director


The UM College of Visual and Performing Arts is proud to honor Rene Haynes, Casting Director and Alumna, Theatre & Dance. Rene is a two-time Emmy Nominee. Her first nomination was for the TNT/DreamWorks mini-series Into the West. Her second nomination was the HBO feature Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, for which she also received the Artios Award for excellence in casting. Rene is one of the foremost experts in Native American and First Nations casting, and consults on many domestic and foreign projects. She easily moves back and forth between large studio projects with industry icons such as Steven Spielberg, Terrence Malick and the late Richard Attenborough, to casting lower budget first features for emerging and student filmmakers. Rene became part of the uber-crazy pop culture world surrounding the popular Twilight Series – when she joined the casting team to find the Wolf Pack for Twilight Saga: New Moon and then went on to cast all the leads in Twilight Saga: Eclipse.

Among her recent independent film credits, she is particularly proud of having cast Jeff Barnaby’s feature debut, Rhymes for Young Ghouls, in which the young lead, unknown First Nations actress, Kawennahere Devery Jacobs, went on to be nominated for “Best Actress” for the 2014 Canadian Screen Award (Canada’s equivalent to the Academy Awards) and the critically lauded independent feature Winter in the Blood, based on the acclaimed James Welch novel, for fellow Montanans Alex and Andrew Smith.

In addition to being recognized as the “go to” expert in her niche, Rene specializes in conducting international talent searches and enjoys projects with very specific and challenging casting needs. Her worldwide search for the female lead in Terrence Malick’s The New World, being just one example - that film’s young 14 year old lead, Q’orianka Kilcher, went on to be named “Best Breakthrough Performance by an Actress” in 2005 by the National Board of Review.

Due to the search aspect of her casting outreach and the increasing use of the Internet as a casting platform – Rene created the 10 Basic Steps For Taping Your Own Audition actor’s tool – which is utilized and published throughout the industry. Based on this work, she presents workshops to many acting programs and festivals.

Rene is dedicated to the ideals of mentorship and freely contributes her time as a member of the SAG/AFTRA Diversity workshop “The Business of Acting” which has traveled throughout the United States in order to give individuals interested in the acting profession a comprehensive overview of the basic professional tools they need to develop, as well as giving them invaluable insights on the film and audition process. These SAG/AFTRA workshops are notable because they are always free to the public.

Never one to be put off by a challenge Rene has also cast foreign language films, in languages that she does not actually speak … “Die Laughing” (in Vietnamese), and lead roles for ”Le Jaguar” and “Le Fil du Francais” (in French) and “Der Freiheit Entgegen” (in German).

In addition to the above impressive accomplishments, Rene was one of the producers on the award winning, independent film, Butterfly Dreaming and is on the producing team of The Baker’s SonBookwormThe English Major and several other projects in development.

Currently she is the Native Casting Consultant on the Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritua feature film The Revenant. She also is casting Soul Catcher, based on the Frank Herbert novel, which is in development and she is in prep to cast an upcoming HBO Mini Series.

Rene’s family moved to Great Falls, Montana when she was in her early teens. She attended CM Russell High School and the University of Montana, where she was a Theatre major and a proud member of Alpha Omicron Pi Sorority. She now resides in Los Angeles, California.