In a most unusual role reversal, Hamilton could be in trouble over a casting call that seeks “non-white” actors and appears to violate human rights law.
Attorney Randolph McLaughlin, of Newman Ferrara Law Firm, argues that the open call is discriminatory. “What if they put an ad out that said, ‘Whites only need apply?’” he tells CBS. “Why, African-Americans, Latinos, Asians would be outraged.”
The Broadway union, Actors Equity, requires producers to fill roles with a “full and fair consideration to actors of all ethnicities.” A press rep for Hamilton claims the union approved the notice, and the show’s producer Jeffrey Seller says, “I stand by it and believe it to be legal.” Via CBS:
The press representative for the show told CBS2’s Aiello the language in the notice, “seeking non-white performers,” was approved by Actors Equity.
But the union general counsel denied that, saying such language was not and would not be approved. And in fact, the audition notice approved by the union welcomes performers of “all ethnicities” to audition, which is posted on the site Backstage.com.
See that posting here.
“You cannot advertise showing that you have a preference for one racial group over another,” says McLaughlin. “As an artistic question—sure, he can cast whomever he wants to cast, but he has to give every actor eligible for the role an opportunity to try.”
The city Commission on Human Rights said it has not received a complaint about the ad, and would not say if it is investigating.
I, however, can confirm that I’m still trying to get tickets to Hamilton.
Image screengrab via CBS