Earlier Wednesday, the producers of hit Broadway play Hamilton were criticized for putting out a casting notice that asked for “non-white” actors. Lawyer Randolph McLaughlin of the Newman Ferrara Law Firm claimed that the casting call violated the New York Human Rights Law.
Maria Somma, a spokeswoman for Actors’ Equity Association also criticized the Hamilton casting call and tells Fortune that the ad does not comply with the labor union’s standards. She notes that official Actor’s Equity casting notices include language encouraging “performers of all ethnic and racial backgrounds” to audition.
Hamilton’s publicist sent Fortune the following statement:
“The producers of Hamilton regret the confusion that’s arisen from the recent posting of an open call casting notice for the show. It is essential to the storytelling of Hamilton that the principal roles—which were written for non-white characters (excepting King George)—be performed by non-white actors. This adheres to the accepted practice that certain characteristics in certain roles constitute a ‘bona fide occupational qualification’ that is legal. This also follows in the tradition of many shows that call for race, ethnicity or age specific casting, whether it’s The Color Purple or Porgy & Bess, or Matilda. The casting will be amended to also include language we neglected to add, that is, we welcome people of all ethnicities to audition for Hamilton.”
It seems the issue is really a matter of language, not some malicious attempt to keep white actors off the stage.
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