Am I Right… to cash a paycheck?

We get it. We’re all actors here. Most of us are broke all the time. We all need the work. We all need the money. And at a certain point, we’re all talented and amazing storytellers. So we all want the part. 

But take a minute. Think about all the parts you would be considered for by an average regional theater company with average middle-American conceptions of traditional casting. Make a list of those roles. Include roles you’ve actually had callbacks for. How long is that list? 

Now. Try making that list again but try imagining that you’re an actor of color this time. How about a trans actor? An actor with a disability? What roles do you think they get callbacks for? Does that change your list? 

It’s a shorter list, isn’t it? 

Do you still feel like you need that job bad enough? Does an actor of color, a transgender actor, or an actor with a disability need that job more than you do? Do you still feel ok taking that job? 

We know what we’re asking is big. We’re asking you to turn down a job. And yes, it may sully your rep at a theatre, yes they may hesitate to hire you in the future. But there’s a whole country out there full of theaters that will hire you. And turning down just one job can make a HUGE impact. It can make a huge impact on the life of a colleague. It can make a huge impact on the thought process of a creative team or a casting professional. Is that worth more than a paycheck? We think so.

Further Reading:

“Look at it this way: Take two children. One of them has 1,000 action figures, while the other has just one. If you take a single figure away from that first child, it is possible, if not probable, that he or she won’t even notice it’s gone. And even if he or she did complain, any sane person would explain to that child the virtues of sharing, of generosity.

Now, if you turned to that child with the solitary toy and tried to take it away, that child would be devastated. That toy might well be his or her lifeline to imagination, to hope, to the idea that play could unlock something within that he or her didn’t even know existed.

If we all can agree that representation matters, then white people are impossibly well represented — while seeing an Asian face in the movies is bordering on the impossible. And apparently it’s getting more impossible every day.”


Lauren Villegas