My friend and talented actor, Ariel Estrada from my latest film TITLE VII, schooled us all on the neverending (why is this still coming up?) question posed by a Black female producer on Facebook under the hashtag #ProducerFrustrations. Here is a recap:
"#ProducerFrustrations: Every time I am casting for something I can find 3,000 white women but like (2) black women, (1) latina actress, and ZERO Asian women!!!!
There are TONS and TONS of talented Actors of Color who are impeccably trained, and hungry for work (me included!). When producers and casting directors bemoan the seeming dearth of actors of color I ask "where are you looking, and how are you looking for them"?
Invariably, they answer the usual channels, that is, expecting the actors to show up and/or submit. This is not a case of "if we build it they will come." Unfortunately, the reality of most open calls is that we, as POCs are SO BURNED by them, that we don't really believe you when you say that you are casting a particular role race specific, and that instead, the default race for any character is white. And even if you ARE specific, again, you can't depend on an open call. As actors of color, we've learned for the most part that they are a complete waste of time. I can't speak for anyone else, but I generally get cast by direct contact (or contact with our agent/manager) from the director/casting director.
Believe me: we are just as frustrated as you are. Yet the reality of how power works in this industry is that THERE IS ONLY SO MUCH AN ACTOR, ESPECIALLY AN ACTOR OF COLOR, CAN DO TO REACH YOU. So the responsibility lies primarily with the producers and casting directors TO COMMIT TO THE MORE DIFFICULT PROCESS OF REACHING OUT TO ACTORS OF COLOR. And I say difficult only because there ARE less of us, but not because we're that hard to find.
If you are truly committed to using Actors of Color, THEN YOU MUST ACTIVELY SEARCH AND ASK THEM OR THEIR REPRESENTATION DIRECTLY. It's not that we're hard to find, it's often that people aren't looking in the right place, and then throw up their hands in despair, "there aren't any actors of color"!
Start with any of the theatre companies of color, and ACTIVELY REACHING OUT TO THEIR ARTISTIC DIRECTORS:
Billie Holiday Theatre, Inc.
Black Spectrum Theatre Company
Blackboard Reading Series
Harlem Repertory Theatre
IMPACT Repertory Theatre
Juneteenth Legacy Theatre
Take Wing And Soar Productions, Inc.
Liberation Theatre Company
The Movement Theatre Company
The National Black Theater
The New Black Fest
New Federal Theatre
New Heritage Theatre Group
The Negro Ensemble Company
Shades of Truth Theatre
Theater Loft: Ujima Theatre Company
We So Hapa
National Asian Artists Project, Inc.
Ma-Yi Theater Company
National Asian American Theatre Company (NAATCO)
Pan Asian Rep
Rising Circle Theater Collective
Hypokrit Theatre Company
Pregones / PRTT
Thalia Spanish Theatre
Teatro Círculo NYC
La Cooperativa of NYC Latinx Theatre Artists
AGENTS/MANAGERS THAT SPECIFICALLY HANDLE AOCS OR HAVE A GOOD HISTORY OF TAKING ON AOCS
First, read this article:
Ken Park Management (Asian primarily)
Annette E. Alvarez of Multi-Ethnic Talent & Promotion, Inc.
Take 3 Talent Agency
Makalina Abalos (Asian primarily)
KPA Talent Management/Production (Hispanic primarily)
3 Arts Entertainment
Bravo, Ariel!! 'Nuff said!