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Casting Call for N.W.A. Biopic Underlines Film Industry's Age-Old "Colorism" Problem

Photo of Tambay A. Obenson By Tambay A. Obenson | Shadow and Act July 17, 2014 at 12:23PM

Business as usual, or an isolated case?
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Director F. Gary Gray (center, standing), along with Ice Cube, Dr Dre and the cast of "Straight Outta Compton"
Director F. Gary Gray (center, standing), along with Ice Cube, Dr Dre and the cast of "Straight Outta Compton"

There isn't much one can really say in response to this, other than to just share it, and let you all see and be incensed yourselves (or maybe you won't be perturbed, and will call it simply business as usual, especially if you are in the business, and have had enough first-hand experiences with situations like this, that it's essentially the norm).

Also, these are issues we've discussed ad naseam on this blog over the years, that I just don't know what more I can say at this point, that I haven't already said on numerous occasions. So digest the information in whatever way works for you.

The post has now been deleted, as I verified, but Gawker was able to lift it before that happened, and published it on their website (which likely led to the casting agency deleting the post). 

In short, it's a casting notice for Universal Pictures' recently-cast N.W.A. biopic, "Straight Outta Compton," which F. Gary Gray is attached to direct, with Ice Cube producing, along with Will Packer, and which is set for release next year.

This casting call was posted yesterday by Sande Allesi Casting, an agency that has posted several casting notices for the film, on their Facebook page. As I said, it's since been deleted, but, again, thanks to Gawker, I'm able to share it below:

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


Business as usual, when it comes to how callous casting notices can be? Or is this an isolated occurrence? One also wonders whether the filmmakers behind the project were aware of this, or even OK'd it, before it went out, or if there's generally a disconnect between the casting agencies and the directors/producers?

And yes, I think we all are aware at this point that the colorism issue isn't just a film industry problem, but one that runs deep within our own community.

This article is related to: casting, Things That Make You Go Hmm...


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