Casting director Claire Simon fosters the arts by hosting frequent soirees for emerging artists

WHO SHE IS: As one of Chicago’s most influential casting directors and owner of Simon Casting for 11-plus years, Claire Simon works with major networks, advertising agencies, theaters, and movie studios to fill roles with local talent.

BUSINESS STATS: Has a staff of three, plus an intern, working of 1,800-sq. ft. space in Lincoln Park near Steppenwolf.

BECAUSE SHE CAN: Supports local visual artists by hosting artist soire?s in her studio where there’s plenty of wall space for hangings.

“It’s great to help someone in the arts and it’s fun for me. Displaying different art adds new energy to the space.”

UPCOMING: The Nov. 15 debut exhibit of abstract oil painter Chelsea Very. “It’s a nice way for people to get together and share a glass of wine.”

PROS: “Being able to make a living in an industry I love while being in charge of my life.”

CONS: “Having a small business can be a crazy business.”

RECENT BIG PROJECT: Casting 20 local actors out of 24 parts for Sony Studios’ “Family Practice” pilot. Two leads went to Joey Honsa and Karin Anglin. “It’s fantastic.”

But now that the pilot’s over, “We’re crossing our fingers and toes and hope that the pilot is picked up” for filming in Chicago.

UPCOMING: Roles for “Eagle Eye,” with Shia LeBeouf that will shoot here for two weeks starting the first of November.

MOST MEMORABLE PROJECT: Director Stephen Frears (“The Queen”) falling asleep during a “High Fidelity” casting call. “I’m always trying to channel my energy like a stage mom. I felt terrible for the actor.”

THE BIGGEST: Fox Television’s “Prison Break” series where Simon cast 150 actors over a year. How did she land such a plum? “They called me. Sometimes the best things happen when you don’t try too hard.”