I was so excited when I heard there was an N.W.A. biopic in the works. Universal Picture’s Straight Outta Compton is set to release next year. Oh joy! A film that’s going to feature a lot of Black people – yeah that made my day. I was all set to pencil in movie night for its opening weekend- maybe even audition for a role, hell, why not? But then I saw the casting notice:
SAG OR NON UNION CASTING NOTICE FOR FEMALES-ALL ETHNICITIES- from the late 80’s. Shoots on “Straight Outta Compton”. Shoot date TBD. We are pulling photos for the director of featured extras. VERY IMPORTANT – You MUST live in the Los Angeles area (Orange County is fine too) to work on this show. DO NOT SUBMIT if you live out of the area. Nobody is going to be flying into LA to do extra work on this show – and don’t tell me you are willing to fly in.
SAG OR NON UNION FEMALES – PLEASE SEE BELOW FOR SPECIFIC BREAKDOWN. DO NOT EMAIL IN FOR MORE THAN ONE CATEGORY:
A GIRLS: These are the hottest of the hottest. Models. MUST have real hair – no extensions, very classy looking, great bodies. You can be black, white, asian, hispanic, mid eastern, or mixed race too. Age 18-30. Please email a current color photo, your name, Union status, height/weight, age, city in which you live and phone number to: SandeAlessiCasting@gmail.com subject line should read: A GIRLS
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. Age 18-30. Please email a current color photo, your name, Union status, height/weight, age, city in which you live and phone number to: SandeAlessiCasting@gmail.com subject line should read: B GIRLS
C GIRLS: These are African American girls, medium to light skinned with a weave. Age 18-30. Please email a current color photo, your name, Union status, height/weight, age, city in which you live and phone number to: SandeAlessiCasting@gmail.com subject line should read: C GIRLS
D GIRLS: These are African American girls. Poor, not in good shape. Medium to dark skin tone. Character types. Age 18-30. Please email a current color photo, your name, Union status, height/weight, age, city in which you live and phone number to: SandeAlessiCasting@gmail.com subject line should read: D GIRLS
Let’s not pretend it didn’t happen or refrain from commenting on it just because Sande Alessi took the disgusting casting notice off their Facebook page – oh no, we saw it. Thank you Gawker. Thank you Shadow and Act.
I believe we should definitely continue to document all of these horrible moments when beautiful Black women are reminded of just how little Hollywood (and I suppose the casting directors and assistants…??) really think of us.
Even though I’m not surprised by it – I’m still disappointed. I feel sorry for these people who are just so clueless and so ridiculously shortsighted. I’m glad Black people are getting work for this new project but it’s unfortunate because if this casting notice is any indication, dark Black women will be depicted negatively in this film and light skin Black women (the Beyonce standard, ahem- I seriously almost spit out my tea when I read that b.s.) – will be cast in a more favorable light. Gee, thanks Hollywood. A healthy portion of reinforced racial stereotypes is just what I needed for breakfast this morning.
My stomach is in knots. And yet…and yet…someone has to play those roles. Someone needs a job. Those women will bite their tongues and hope that by getting through the project – getting paid- it’ll pave a way to better roles.
Hmmm, maybe it will. But at what cost?
It’s 2014. Why are we still reading casting notices that seem like they’re from the 80s and 90s? Surely the same people who worked in casting can’t be writing these notices. A new generation had to have come up by now which means…oh no…Racism 101 is still part of the curriculum. It further saddens me to know that there are obviously Black men involved in the making of this film and yet…somehow this casting notice happened. I’m not saying this to be true about all Black men across the board – some of ya’ll really do defend us sistas and I love you for it. But in this case – I’d like to see little more indignation from some more Black men and hear a little more chatter out there in left field. This casting notice is an atrocity.
But rather than let this friendly reminder from Hollywood get me down I’m just going to make a note of it. I’m not letting it ruin my day.
Nowadays it’s harder to make Black girls like me believe we’re not beautiful. Because now we have groups, blogs, websites that are all about empowering us with or without our natural hair, regardless of our shapes and sizes and skin tones. I engage and network with many of these other beautiful Black women who are involved with these organizations and because of that I continue to feel beautiful and confident. I’m able to dismiss the notion that my dark skin is somehow a curse. My dark skin is not a curse. It’s a beautiful, mostly blemish-free Blessing. So yeah, this little moment may sting a bit but it’s only furthering my own personal determination to continue to uplift beautiful, dark skin women.
It won’t always be like this. One day, there will be a shift in power and Black women won’t be at the bottom. I choose not to buy into the belief that this is ” just how it is in Hollywood” and there’s nothing that can be done about it. It’s simply not true. There is something that can be done about it and eventually we’ll actually get around to doing it.
So for now, let’s just make note of these little irritating, ignorant moments that try to bring us down and keep it moving. As long as it’s documented we won’t forget. We won’t forget any of it – not where rock & roll and rap came from (there’s no such thing as “white rap,” by the way, let’s just get over that right now OK, Iggy Azalea? Thanks.) and we won’t forget that before White women finally realized that oil was good for the hair Black girls like me were being tormented in school whenever we deigned to rock a Black hairstyle or admit we we didn’t wash our hair everyday and that after washing we always oiled our scalps.
So obviously, at some point, they’ll catch on to how amazing Black women, DARK SKIN BLACK WOMEN, are. It’s only a matter of time.
P.S. I may be a D-CUP but I am not, nor will I ever be, a D GIRL. Remember that.