In Febuary 2015, Upworthy published a video that brought together actors of color to describe their experiences at auditions for the U.S. entertainment industry. The actors recount being told by casting directors to act in a stereotypical fashion and being typecasted based on their race and ethnicity. The clip uses personal stories to challenge accusations that the film industry is too Eurocentric and therefore, leaves few roles for actors of color to audition for. The clip cites various studies supporting the use of diverse casts stating that nearly 70% of casting calls prefer white actors, that films with relatively diverse casts excel at the box office and in returns on investment, and that television shows reflecting the nation’s diversity excel in ratings. So with potential for better ratings and better returns, the video asks viewers, “What’s the new excuse?” Upworthy is a website for viral content that promotes progressive stories tackling political and social issues.
In the beginning of the clip, the actors mention the roles typically available to them. Why do you think casting directors look for actors of certain races and ethnicities to play specific roles? Why do they assign certain attributes to racial and ethnic groups?
Why might Upworthy be calling into question the practices and convention among casting directors? What impact do the choices of casting directors behind the screen have for audiences who watch television shows or movies?
Why does Upworthy use the personal stories of actors to explore this issue?
The clip uses research data to support the use of diverse casts. Which entertainment industry members do you think can use this data? How do you think those industry members can use this data to push for diverse casting?
Reflect on your own media consumption. When you watch films and television shows, what types of roles do you see played by actors of color?