Everyone involved with N.W.A. biopic backs away from racist casting call

Everyone involved with N.W.A. biopic backs away from racist casting call

Today in “racism is bad”: Universal Studios, the filmmakers behind the N.W.A. biopic Straight Outta Compton, and (eventually) the casting agency itself have apologized for a horribly misguided casting call posted to Facebook this week. In the since-deleted announcement, Sande Alessi Casting called for prospective female cast members, which it then ranked by skin tone and assigned the letter grades A through D: 

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

The call manages to run the spectrum of the  harmful stereotypes often associated with black women: Lighter skin complexion and mixed-race ranks higher; “Cs” and “Ds” are black women only; and those in the “D” level are dark-skinned and/or out of shape. Following the immediate backlash, the studio and filmmakers issued a statement saying they “did not approve and do not condone the information” in the call, and that they “regret and sincerely apologize for being in any way associated with the offensive descriptions it contained.” 

A representative from Sande Alessi Casting also eventually responded, making a statement to TMZ that says the casting call was an “honest mistake”—like forgetting where you parked your car, or perpetuating the colorism that’s plagued filmmaking for decades. 

Straight Outta Compton is slated for release in 2015, with F. Gary Gray directing and a cast that features N.W.A founding member Ice Cube’s real-life son, O’Shea Jackson Jr.

[via NME and Shadow And Act]


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