Is the ‘Straight Outta Compton’ Movie Casting Call Really Racist? Universal Pictures Thinks So.
The internet is known for making a racial misstep into a March on Washington so when I got an email to read the casting call for the new film Straight Outta Compton, I was a little curious to see what all the “Racist” talk was about. Is everyone making a big deal out of nothing?
It’s a Universal Picture that Ice cube and Dr. Dre are working on, so it’s definitely a legit project. On Wednesday the casting call went out for the film and people were not happy. Sande Allesi Casting were the geniuses behind the posting. Here is exactly how it read:
SAG OR NON UNION CASTING NOTICE FOR FEMALES-ALL ETHNICITIES- from the late 80’s. Shoots on “Straight Outta Compton”. Shoot date TBD. We are pulling photos for the director of featured extras. VERY IMPORTANT – You MUST live in the Los Angeles area (Orange County is fine too) to work on this show. DO NOT SUBMIT if you live out of the area. Nobody is going to be flying into LA to do extra work on this show – and don’t tell me you are willing to fly in.
SAG OR NON UNION FEMALES – PLEASE SEE BELOW FOR SPECIFIC BREAKDOWN. DO NOT EMAIL IN FOR MORE THAN ONE CATEGORY:
A GIRLS: These are the hottest of the hottest. Models. MUST have real hair – no extensions, very classy looking, great bodies. You can be black, white, asian, hispanic, mid eastern, or mixed race too. Age 18-30. Please email a current color photo, your name, Union status, height/weight, age, city in which you live and phone number to: SandeAlessiCasting@gmail.com subject line should read: A GIRLS
B GIRLS: These are fine girls, long natural hair, really nice bodies. Small waists, nice hips. You should be light-skinned. Beyonce is a prototype here. Age 18-30. Please email a current color photo, your name, Union status, height/weight, age, city in which you live and phone number to: SandeAlessiCasting@gmail.com subject line should read: B GIRLS
C GIRLS: These are African American girls, medium to light skinned with a weave. Age 18-30. Please email a current color photo, your name, Union status, height/weight, age, city in which you live and phone number to: SandeAlessiCasting@gmail.com subject line should read: C GIRLS
D GIRLS: These are African American girls. Poor, not in good shape. Medium to dark skin tone. Character types. Age 18-30. Please email a current color photo, your name, Union status, height/weight, age, city in which you live and phone number to: SandeAlessiCasting@gmail.com subject line should read: D GIRLS
To the casting calls defense, if you are dark skinned with short hair you can actually be an A Girl. This fact is overlooked as things get worse the more you read down the list. So just to be clear, Lupita Nyong’o can be an A Girl. I don’t think a lot of readers and commenters understood that.
HOWEVER…..THE CASTING CALL DOES SUCK. BIG TIME!
I honestly tried to read this a few different ways. I tried to see the ABCD as arbitrary rankings, but let’s face it, they’re not. I tried to overlook the blatant ranking of skin color and race. African American doesn’t show up until C girls, with medium to light skinned first and then Medium to dark last. This is implying, in a not so subtle way that a dark skinned girl could not possibly qualify to be the hottest of the hottest despite “black” being mentioned in A. Imagine sending your info in and putting D Girl in the subject line after that description. You can’t feel good about yourself.
It’s also classist implying that rich or middle class women could not be “out of shape” as such things are left to the poor.
This is a movie about Compton so the “D Girls” theoretically should be listed first in my opinion. The last time I was in Compton it was the year 2000 and I saw way more Sherri Shephard than Rochelle Aytes.
IN CASE YOU FORGOT WHO ROCHELLE AYTES IS
I understand that this is a casting call, and it’s ok, to request skin color and hair type. 100% I’m sure when you are casting a movie like 12 years a slave, you are not looking for light skinned men and woman with weaves down their back. There is not a lot of time and you want these events to be efficient. As experts in the field they could have written this a million different ways. They could have grouped he females as they arrived, this way you don’t miss out on a beautiful thick woman, or a beautiful dark skinned woman with a natural that felt she wasn’t part of the A group.
This is a harsh reality of Hollywood and how they cast and class actors and actresses. This is something that we are not going to change over night or over the next five years, even on movies that have black producers involved. The benefit here is at least you know how you will be perceived when you arrive, so it’s up to you if you want to waste your time attending this casting call or not. In essence they are doing the would be actresses a favor.
UNIVERSAL PICTURES DIDN’T THINK IT WAS RIGHT….
They released a statement, making it clear they had nothing to do with that casting call,
“the filmmakers … did not approve and do not condone the information in this casting notice. We regret and sincerely apologize for being in any way associated with the offensive descriptions it contained.”
THE SANDE ALESSI CASTING AGENCY APOLOGIZES….SORT OF
They said that this is the usual method they use to look for different types on a project and it was not meant to be offensive. They then apologized. The rep for the agency said
the ad was an “innocent mistake” — and when it comes to casting the “poor” people, they’re also looking for women of various skin tones and body types.
Basically not all poor people are fat and dark. There were no apologies for anything else. I knew this agency didn’t know what they doing when they cast Beyonce as a B-Girl.
I was going to post an NWA throwback video, but I found some footage of one of the actual casting calls. These people nailed it, looks like there will be no issue finding extras.