Author Topic: Criticism of NWA film's casting process  (Read 2274 times)

Offline Hypestyle

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Criticism of NWA film's casting process
« on: July 19, 2014, 07:19:20 am »
http://www.vibe.com/photo-gallery/5-reasons-why-straight-outta-compton-casting-call-makes-my-head-hurt
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Yesterday, I read the casting call for ‘Straight Outta Compton’ and literally did a spit take. After I wiped the coffee of my monitor, I read it again. And then once more. I immediately emailed the link to my editor at VIBE with the subject line: I. AM. SPEECHLESS. His response?

Is that a hoax? Can't see a big studio like that doing this.

Nope. Not a hoax.

In case you missed it: Sande Alessi Casting is currently casting for Straight Outta Compton, a biopic on NWA produced by Dr. Dre, Ice Cube and Easy E’s wife, Tomika Woods-Wright.

On the agency’s Facebook page, they listed the types of women they’re looking for, presumably to play extras. The women are broken down into four groups—from ‘A’ girls to ‘D’ girls.

A girls: “These are the hottest of the hottest. Models. MUST have real hair—no extensions, very classy looking, great bodies.”

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.”

C girls: “These are African American girls, medium to light skinned with a weave.”

D girls: “These are African American girls. Poor, not in good shape. Medium to dark skin tone.”

I was ready to get a pitchfork and some picket signs and head over to Sande Alessi’s Casting Agency. In 2014, who thought this was okay? And then I talked to a few casting agents, actors and producers who shrugged it off. They said the casting call was poorly written and bordering on offensive—but it wasn’t racist.

After reading the casting call through the eyes of those who work in the business, I see it differently, (but not much). Racism is not what’s at work here—it’s just pure ignorance.

Instead of being outraged, now I’m just conflicted and confused by the whole thing. Here’s why.

1. Why do the ‘A girls’ have to have real hair?

The listing for A girls spells out in all caps, ‘MUST have real hair, no extensions.’ What kind of casting agency needs their longhaired extras to have real hair? Is there going to be some poor intern whose job it will be to run her fingers through the scalps of would-be extras and feel around for tracks and lace-fronts?  What are great bodies?

The A girls have to have “great bodies.” What does that mean? By whose standards? I guess we’re supposed to infer: thin with big boobs and a small waist? Do they mean ‘great bodies’ by Hollywood standards? Or by Straight Outta Compton standards? Because those are two different thing
Why are folks on the Internet trying to defend the A-B-C-D grouping of the girls as a non-issue?

We group things alphabetically—and there are little instances in which the label D is a good thing. (You want an A in your English class? Or a D? You want to be an A-list actor? Or a D-list actor

The ‘D’ girls they’re looking for are ‘poor, not in good shape.’

Exactly how does someone arrive at an audition for a role as a poor person? Can’t ANYONE play a poor person? Isn’t that the job of the hair, makeup and costume designer to make someone ‘look’ poor? Who is supposed to read that and say, ‘oh! A role for me! I can play a poor person!’ Maybe the rest of the listing for this group is a hint: ‘medium to dark skin tone

5. Why am I even tripping over this?

On Diddy's "We Dem Boyz" remix, he says, with no apology, “I like them Blasian and Mulatto.” Why am I not incensed and threatening to boycott him for professing his preference for the A girls? In hip-hop, women have been delineated into these groups since day one. And we’ve always placed a higher-value on the ‘A’ Girls. The Sande Casting agency isn’t at fault here. They’re being tasked to portray the world that WE have helped to build. So who’s really at fault here? The casting agency that’s separating women by color and assigning them to rankings? Or the culture they’re trying to portray?

Aliya S. King's is the author of two novels and three non-fiction books, including the New York Times Bestseller, Keep The Faith, with recording artist Faith Evans. She has written for VIBE since 1998. Find her at aliyasking.com and @aliyasking
« Last Edit: July 19, 2014, 07:21:42 am by Hypestyle »
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Offline Battle

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Re: Criticism of NWA film's casting process
« Reply #1 on: July 19, 2014, 02:35:26 pm »
Not the most elegant way to introduce a film project...!  :-[

Offline JRCarter

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Re: Criticism of NWA film's casting process
« Reply #2 on: July 19, 2014, 04:42:35 pm »
Wow. Really?

Offline Rockscissorspaper

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Re: Criticism of NWA film's casting process
« Reply #3 on: July 30, 2014, 06:19:01 am »
Not the most elegant way to introduce a film project...!  :-[

"Elegant" and "N.W.A". probably don't belong in the same sentence, lol.
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Offline Battle

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Re: Criticism of NWA film's casting process
« Reply #4 on: July 30, 2014, 07:56:11 am »
Not the most elegant way to introduce a film project...!  :-[

"Elegant" and "N.W.A". probably don't belong in the same sentence, lol.




Neither does "purchase movie ticket on opening night", lol, brb, afaik, j/k.   ;D