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? Don’t the good folks in Hollywood know how far extensions have come? Even the “classy looking” girls have extensions.
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