Famed acting coach Lesly Kahn, who was caught on tape urging one of her students to pretend to be Latina in order to have a better chance of landing roles, has agreed to establish a scholarship for Hispanic actors.
Kahn already has apologized for making the remarks, saying, “I deeply regret the offense my words have caused.” On the tape, she can be heard recommending that one of her non-Hispanic students change her name to Rosa Ramirez and get headshots that further advance the ethnic deception.
Leaders of the National Hispanic Media Coalition and the National Latino Media Council say they accept her apology and are giving her high marks for agreeing to take action to make amends. “We’ve now met three times with Lesly Kahn,” NHMC president Alex Nogales said, “and she has expressed deep remorse for her words and has volunteered to create a substantive scholarship actor training program for Latino actors who wish to seek jobs and representation in film and television. It is lamentable when these things happen, but it also speaks volumes when the person who committed the infraction agrees to a memorandum of understanding and creates a program to not only help right the wrong but be part of the solution to change an industry that is severely lacking Latino representation.”
Said NLMC chair Thomas Saenz: “Lesly Kahn has agreed to help solve the problem of Latino underrepresentation in movies and other media. That is a welcome development and a clear indication of the significance and urgency of the issue.”
In her apology, Kahn also said, “I value and respect people of all ethnic backgrounds, am extremely sorry and will use this learning experience to ensure against that type of incident in the future.”
In a statement to Deadline today, Kahn said, “I am looking forward to using my personal experience as an acting teacher as well as that of everyone on our staff and faculty to help contribute to making a major difference in our business and being part of increasing Latino representation in the industry.“