Famed casting directors Robi Reed and Tara Rubin will be honored along with The Actors Fund at the Casting Society of America’s 36th annual Artios Awards, which will be held virtually on April 15. Reed and Rubin will receive the Hoyt Bowers Award, given for excellence in casting and honoring their body of work and outstanding contributions to the casting profession. The Actors Fund will receive the Rosalie Joseph Humanitarian Award – named after the famed casting director and philanthropist.
“At the age of 15,” Reed said, “what I knew is that I wanted to be a casting director, and receiving the Hoyt Bowers Award is not only an honor, it is a testament to what can happen when you believe in yourself and find your purpose.”
Reed, whose career has spanned over 30 years and more than 70 films, has long been Hollywood’s leading casting director for Black-themed projects. Her first studio film was Spike Lee’s School Daze, and she’d go on to cast his Do the Right Thing, Mo’ Better Blues, Crooklyn, Clockers, and Malcolm X – winning the CSA Award for best casting on Malcolm X.
She also cast Beyoncè Knowles-Carter in her first acting roles, and cast the directorial debuts for Denzel Washington, Eddie Murphy and Regina King. She also casted numerous TV projects, including HBO’s The Tuskegee Airmen, for which she won an Emmy Award for best casting; Oprah Winfrey’s Their Eyes Were Watching God; the Showtime series Barbershop, as well as Girlfriends, In Living Color, A Different World and Roc.
After 25 years of running her own company, Robi Reed Entertainment, she joined the executive ranks at BET Networks, where in her position as Vice President of Talent and Casting for Original Programming, she oversees all scripted and non-scripted shows for the network, including the NAACP Image Award-winning miniseries The Bobby Brown Story and The New Edition Story, as well as Madiba starring Laurence Fishburne, The Book of Negroes, American Soul, The Game, First Wives Club, Games People Play and Bigger.
During a recent SAG-AFTRA webinar on Race & Storytelling, Reed described how in the early days of her career, after casting School Daze, she was then only asked to cast Black-themed shows. “And from that point on, I only got offered projects that had predominantly African-American casts. And I was like: ‘I’m a casting director. I know talent. Consider me for all things.’ And every studio, every network, they wanted to work with me, but when those ‘mainstream projects’ came along, they were never given to me. For a long time I fought that. And then, after a while, accepted the blessing that I had for being the casting director for African American projects.”
Rubin said that “As a casting director who works almost exclusively in the theater, it is especially meaningful to have this honor at a time when our industry is experiencing devastating unemployment and an uncertain future. It’s kind of like a ghost light – our theatres may be dark, but that one light reminds us that we will be back. I love being a casting director, so being recognized with a colleague – the amazing Robi Reed – makes the experience even more special.”
Rubin, who is one of Broadway’s leading casting directors, serves on the board of the Casting Society and on the grants committee of the Noel Coward Foundation. She started Tara Rubin Casting in 2001 after working for 15 years as a casting director at Johnson-Liff Associates, working on such productions of Les Miserables, Phantom of the Opera, Cats, Sunset Boulevard, Miss Saigon and Jerry Zaks’ revival of Guys and Dolls. She also cast the daytime drama Another World.
At her own company, she and her colleagues continue to cast many of those titles, in addition to such Broadway shows as Six, Sing Street, Ain’t Too Proud, The Band’s Visit, Indecent, School of Rock, Bullets Over Broadway, Big Fish, Mamma Mia!, Jersey Boys, Aladdin, Mary Poppins, Spamalot, The Producers, Young Frankenstein and How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.
She cast the upcoming Billy Crystal movie Here Today, and recently completed the 15th season casting Yale Repertory Theater. Her company has worked with regional theaters all across the country, including La Jolla Playhouse, The Williamstown Theater Festival, Dallas Theater Center, Arena Stage, and The Westport Country Playhouse. Tara graduated with honors from Boston University and serves on the board of the Casting Society of America and the grants committee of the Noel Coward Foundation.
In a joint statement, CSA co-presidents Russell Boast and Rich Mento said that “For the first time in our history, a virtual awards show allows CSA the opportunity to celebrate our craft, along with our membership and their contributions across the globe, in one single event. And in a year that has presented a myriad of challenges, it is particularly rewarding to identify the people and organizations that are making a positive impact in our field and our industry. Our 2021 dual Hoyt Bowers recipients, Robi Reed and Tara Rubin, each an incredibly accomplished artist and casting professional – along with honoring the substantially supportive work of the Actors Fund – underscores our organization’s participation and commitments to our creative community.”
The Actors Fund, which has been one of the entertainment industry’s leading charitable originations since 1882, continued that tradition during the pandemic, distributing more than $17 million in emergency financial assistance to more than 14,000 people since March 18 to help cover their basic living expenses.
“This award is incredibly meaningful to all of us,” said Joe Benincasa, president and CEO of The Actors Fund. “Our staff has worked tirelessly over these past months to ensure no disruption in our emergency financial assistance, while at the same time strengthening and enhancing our essential health and wellness, life and career, and housing services. To receive the Rosalie Joseph Humanitarian Award from the Casting Society of America reflects the collaborative spirit of this community, and emphasizes that The Fund is here not only for those who work on stage and on camera, but also for the thousands in our industry who work behind the scenes: casting directors, crew members, designers, writers and many more. We are especially grateful to long-time western region leaders and past CSA presidents Pam Dixon and Gary Zuckerbrod for their commitment to the work of The Fund. We are proud to continue to provide stability and resiliency for our entertainment community, and a safety net to those in need in the coming months and beyond.”
First held in 1985, the Artios Awards honor casting directors in more than 20 different categories of film, television and theatre. Nominees and winners are voted on by CSA members in good standing.