Hollywood is a tough place to try and land work. Often, casting agencies are looking for specific appearances, and if someone doesn’t fit the idea they’re looking for, they’re simply discarded and told to move along. Some of this is natural, of course, but now and again, these calls can go so hyper-specific and stereotypical, they can start to seem judgmental and offensive. Take for instance, a casting call that just went out for the upcoming NWA biopic Straight Outta Compton.
The notice has since been pulled, but Gawker was able to transcribe the entire thing before it was removed. In it, the agency asks for women between 18 and 30 to sort themselves into four different categories, based on their level of attractiveness and apparently, socioeconomic appearance.
You can take a look at an excerpt below, take special notice of Group D…
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: [email protected] subject line should read: A GIRLS
Casting agencies should be allowed to get as specific as they want. If they want to cast a half Japanese, half Indian dude that’s over seven feet tall with exactly four tattoos, there’s no reason they shouldn’t be able to do that. In fact, very few people are complaining when they get that specific. The problem here is they’re clearly trying to cast a large number of girls who could pass for poor chicks from the neighborhood, but instead of asking for that, they describe what they think poor girls look like. In some cases, they’re right. In other cases, they’re wrong. Anyone who has ever been to South Central, Los Angeles can tell you there is not one skin type or one size.
We have no idea if Ice Cube or anyone else outside of the casting agency had anything to do with this casting call. More than likely, they didn’t. Director F. Gary Gray likely told all involved to find girls who could have lived in South Central during the late 80s and early 90s, and that’s how they decided to send out the word.
I’m not particularly invested in Hollywood becoming as politically correct as possible, but there’s a difference between portraying realism and passing on stereotypes.