The Casting Society of America will host a town hall on Thursday to explore diversity, equity and inclusion in the casting process. The virtual gathering is co-sponsored by the CSA’s Black, Indigenous and People of Color Alliance and will be moderated by Dr. Darnisa Amante-Jackson, CEO of the Disruptive Equity Education Project and a lecturer at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education.
The town hall, which starts at noon PT, is the first in a new series of panel discussions called “Closer to Equity” that the CSA will host. The town hall is open to all casting professionals, including CSA members and non-members. To register, email: BIPOCAlliance@CastingSociety.com
Thursday’s panelists will include casting directors Angelique Midthunder (Georgia O’Keeffe, Big Kill), Erica Jensen (Broadway’s A Raisin in the Sun, Hedwig and the Angry Inch), Kim Coleman (American Crime, Dear White People) and Zora DeHorter (12 to Midnight, Shadow Wolves); casting director and producer Kim Heil (San Diego Repertory Theatre); Kim Williams, VP Casting at Touchstone Television; and casting associates Margie Vargas (Kidding, Blindspotting) and Xavier Rubiano (Broadway’s Dear Evan Hansen, The Phantom of the Opera).
“The objective of this first conversation,” CSA says, “is to provide a space for casting professionals to have the difficult conversations around diversity, belonging, equity and inclusion, and move toward healing and change.” Dr. Amante-Jackson said that she strives to create “space and experiences that foster conversations around equity and dismantling systemic oppression and racism in pursuit of advancing equitable outcomes for all.”
The panelists had this to say in advance of Thursday’s town hall:
Angelique Midthunder: “As people of color ourselves, BIPOC casting directors have an intimate understanding of the complexities of different cultures as well as an ingrained obligation to represent them with integrity. We are the bridge between producers and the BIPOC acting community.”
Kim Heil: “Many BIPOC professionals in the arts and entertainment industry like ourselves have been working for years – if not decades – with equity, diversity, and inclusion in mind. So what’s different about now? This moment now demands that we examine not just those principles, but the infrastructure and the systems that those principles are circulated. The systems themselves are flawed. So how can we restructure a better way of working?”
Kim Williams: “I’m excited to go beyond just talking and, with the help of Dr. Darnisa, move towards addressing the critical issues and changes that are necessary to bring about true progress towards equity both in front of and behind the camera.”
Margie Vargas: “Diversity and inclusion in casting is about bringing something unique to the table that no one else can. Each unique perspective can only build a better, stronger, and more unified casting community.”
Zora DeHorter: “As a woman, a black woman, I have dealt with my share of assumptions and presumptions; at times an unnecessary burden to carry. Being part of an open, safe space to have dialogues about how to affect changes is so exciting. I am so looking forward to having discussions about hiring practices, workplace practices, and how we, as BIPOC casting professionals, can effectively and positively move forward to a better, enlightened, hopeful future.”
Erica Jensen: “I’m encouraged by the continued conversation happening in the casting community. The only way to achieve equity in casting is if we operate as a unit rather than individuals. We need to have consistency on this topic from office to office and be positive examples to the rest of the entertainment industry.”
Xavier Rubiano: “It’s a privilege and an honor to be able to speak on this panel and I look forward to amplifying the voices of our BIPOC colleagues in casting and to educate our White peers to help create a safer, inclusive and anti-racist casting community both in our audition rooms and in our offices.”
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