In an age where diversity is the watchword when it comes to casting, directing, writing, producing and just about every other aspect of our work as performers, a strange condition remains very much in effect for us actors.
And no one seems to care one bit about it. And we’ve achieved something quite remarkable.
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Hope this helps!
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I am a 60 year old Caucasisn woman. I audition for young adult, middle age and senior voice roles. And get a bit of each. I also have auditioned for African American, various Southern dialects, Asian, Hispanic, Brittish and Australian and South African voice roles and incredibly, have been cast for those as well. As a voice actor I think we are at an advantage because the casting directors can’t see us. I use my company logo on the pay to play sites and and hide my picture on my website. I think it’s the quality of your acting that should be judged not who you actually are.
On one level, this is really scary. Your talk elicited the thought, “What if somebody tried to ‘fix’ this situation?”
Taking the answer to its logical conclusion ala argumentum ad absurdum, the search for diversity, looked at as ‘inclusiveness,’ could lead to its exact opposite, i.e., total unreality.
For instance, to take inclusiveness to its highest levels, an author’s characters would all have to look, act, and say things in an identical way. The thing that comes to my mind with respect to who could play these roles in a movie would be robots made to the same manufacturing specifications.
Or, getting there by going the opposite direction (ala Christopher Columbus) the characters would have to be created using a system of random selection of characteristics. But, that would require ….
Oh, I don’t know why I am doing this; I think I’m following Alice down into the rabbit hole or maybe going down the road to becoming my own Grandpa.
Please forgive me, David.
I’m a middle aged white lady who has very few on screen roles on my resume. The parts I go in for tend to be the little “under 5” type co- or guest stars. Often these are some of the rare parts for which age/race/gender/weight/attractiveness are immaterial (waitress, concierge, passer-by, etc). I’ve been told by a casting director that I actually am less likely to be cast in that type of role because production makes an effort to cast the little parts with ethnic minorities so as to bump up the total diversity in the show. This is an unfortunate break for me, but it’s also (and I think in a systemically sinister way) really bad for the minority actors trying to book larger roles. Production can justify hiring a lilly-white series regular or leading cast because they hired a lot of ethnic minorities in the small parts. I don’t have a solution for this, other than to get writers to magically write deliberately diverse main cast parts. Just another weird aspect of the baked-in job discrimination you’re describing.
Interesting angle on this.
But I don’t let it bother me.
Sure, there are roles being advertised as a specific gender; sexual persuasion; age, skin color; ancestry; etc. that, upon reading the script, could be filled with almost any actor with a pulse — talent being a given. And one might indulge oneself in ten seconds of “Why couldn’t that have been me?”
Then there are roles that absolutely have to be cast with someone who fits a particular criteria, because it’s germane to the story being told. One wouldn’t cast the part of an 80-year old black man with a 20-something white dude.
I once read for a role casting said producers wanted to go younger than scripted and they really wanted me for it. They loved my audition! Three weeks later I got word I looked too young for the part…
Should I have sued for discrimination?
So, I don’t let it bother me.
I never quite thought of it as discrimination, but it very obviously is. And yeah, given the way parts are written, it makes sense. I don’t have much to offer with regard to whether it’s a problem that needs to be fixed, but this video definitely has got me thinking. Thanks for the video David.
I think we need this kind of discrimination to tell the stories the writers have in mind. It is creative freedom. If we get nuts about the character breakdowns and the details of who and what they are looking for it stops their creative freedom. It keeps the game interesting too.
The only time if bothers me is when it doesn’t work. Last night I watched Luc Besson’s “American Renegades,” and none of the “Americans” were Americans. They looked and acted and felt like Europeans. And in the Special Features, I found out they were all Brits.
Playing an American (or any other national group) is more than being able to do an accent well. The only Brit I believe is truly authentic at playing Americans is Damian Lewis.
Completely understand when it is TV, stage,or film when there are casting specifics but in voice acting?????????…
Total complete job discrimination for sure. What puzzles Me is a cancer research VO ad, or cancer story booking goes to anybody. Why not a booking prerequisite being: a real cancer survivor, professionally trained voice actor?
To tell a story that has been lived is far more compelling than a creative team’s favorite, telling it..
Real life experienced voice actor here: cancer survivor, Mom, divorce survivor, sister, aunt, friend.