“Black people don’t buy our product.”
“The casting is too urban.”
“Can we find someone ethnically ambiguous?”
For BIPOC directors, these comments are heard all too often in casting sessions. Ranging from the outright offensive to being carefully coded so as to avoid directly discussing race in casting, these interactions have a negative effect for the directors involved and on the quality of talent that makes it on screen.
That’s why a group of BIPOC directors have come together to issue a petition encouraging the advertising industry to change how race is discussed in casting. In short, they want to remove nonessential racial descriptions from casting altogether. By doing so, it removes the implication that if race is not mentioned, the talent should be white.
The initiative is spearheaded by six BIPOC directors, Aleysa Young (who started her career in casting), Duane Crichton, Henry Lu, Hubert Davis, Samir Mallal and Lloyd Lee Choi.
The goal of the petition is to make agencies and clients aware of how, as directors of colour, phrases like “all ethnicities welcome” carry a discriminatory weight – despite the intention of being inclusive – and to move the baseline to a place where a lack of racial descriptors in fact means that directors can look for the best talent for the job based solely on talent, not ethnicity.
Strategy’s Josh Kolm did an interview with directors Aleyesa Young and Duane Crichton on this initiative. Read it here.