Been a while since I've written a blog post but I'm back on it again... This has been a burning topic for me for sometime and I think now is the right time to share my thoughts. As an agent I receive 'break downs' (a break down is a note that informs agents that a casting director is looking for talent) for roles every day from block buster films, to professional theatre to adverts for the worlds biggest brands. Sometimes they have a preferred ethnicity and sometimes they don't. Even when they don't I'm compelled to think they already know what 'type of child' they want because of how they want consumers to view their brand.
Now I'm sure you will all understand that sometimes children of certain races are required to fulfil certain roles if they are to be part of a family for example to make it appear more realistic but what always fascinates me is when that's not the case and certain races are still preferred over another to represent a brand or for a certain role. I've seen this from brands of fast food to kitchen cleaner to National serial dramas. At this point I must stress that I've seen the suggestion made for only black and only white children sometimes they are even specific to the socio economic look or sound of a child.
From a creative point of view I understand, and to a certain degree as an agent it's a lot easier to suggest to directors children I think are suitable if in deed I know what they want specifically... However I often think they miss out on some amazing finds because they have it in their head that they want a child of a certain look or background.
There is a method in my madness for speaking out about this now.. Today had a young client of mine go for an audition for a popular show. This child is extremely talented. On arrival his Mother realised that out of 60 children he was the only black boy in attendance. She didn't say anything to him. Her 9 year old son then turned to her and said "Mummy, I know this part isn't for people that are my colour but I'm going to show them what I'm made of" this made me sad that this child thought that because of the colour of his skin the part was not achievable.
I know for sure that they got a lot of looks and comments made as out of so many children he was totally unique and yes I do mean looks as if to say he doesn't belong here. Have you come to the wrong audition. I sent him to this audition because I thought he would be fab at the role and it did not specify ethnicity but I know that my other agent peers would never suggest a black child for the role. Why? Because it's traditionally a white role. But you know what ?..why should I let any child's colour limit them? He went in that audition and sung and danced his little heart out! Out of 60 white children he is now down to the last 10!
It is disappointing that when some parents saw he had made the final cut they were shocked and stared at him and his Mother.. They were confused as to why a black child had made it through and their child hadn't because in their mind a child of colour shouldn't play this role! We are in 2015 people! Colour of a child's skin should not be an issue! At the risk of going all Martin Luther on you guys I really hope that I live to see the day that the issue of race doesn't even need to be discussed.
I'm yet to find out if he has secured the role but you know something that doesn't matter to me because tonight I'm proud that this little boy learned t the colour of your skin doesn't have to hold you back. There is no such thing as a black role or a white role. Your talent can see you through...
I might not be liked, people may think I'm mad but I will forever challenge casting directors, brands and production companies to open their minds and more importantly thier hearts to just give a child a chance. They may not look like the character they have built up in their head but if you place limitations on roles that do not need to be there the world misses out on so many shining stars waiting to show the world how bright they can sparkle.
Change is coming people and I am proud to be a part of it!