Prioritize bringing on a casting director who will work to create inclusion onscreen.
Questions to think through prior to hiring a casting director:
● Do previous productions of the casting director reflect the inclusion you are trying to achieve onscreen?
● Does the casting director have a track record of inclusive casting, with women from all races/ethnicities (particularly, Black, Hispanic/Latina, Asian, Middle Eastern/North African, Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, American Indian/Alaskan Native, Multiracial/Multiethnic), the LGBTQ+ community, and people with disabilities?
● Does the casting director’s team reflect a variety of viewpoints and experiences?
Research shows that the intersection of casting directors’ gender and race/ethnicity is related to hiring practices for on-screen roles. Meaning, stories with women of color casting leaders were associated with casting more underrepresented actors onscreen in film than stories with white women as casters. As a result, make sure your list of potential casting director candidates reflects a range of experiences of men, women, and non-binary casting directors to counter these historical biases.
Questions to ask casting directors in the interview process:
● What is your plan for making the auditioning and casting process inclusive?
● What specific strategies have you used in the past to foster inclusive casting?
● What do you do when someone you work with (i.e., director, producer, ADs, showrunners, executives) is resistant to inclusion?
● How do you handle casting larger roles vs. smaller roles in a story?
● Certain groups remain largely invisible on screen, particularly characters from underrepresented racial/ethnic groups, LGBTQ+ roles and characters with disabilities. Can you share your plan for casting a wide net in the auditioning process to ensure that talented actors from all backgrounds are considered for different roles?
● How have you worked with breakdown services in the past to make casting more inclusive?
● What is your review process for breakdowns and avoiding bias in that process?
● The typical feature film can have roughly 40 characters that speak one or more lines of dialogue. How do you ensure that smaller roles are challenging stereotypes (e.g., occupations, domestic roles, appearance concerns)?
● How do you think about Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements when planning for the auditioning process? Do you use a checklist or set of best practices that ensures accessibility for all actors auditioning? How will you plan to achieve the requirements?