Seeds: The groundbreaking musical Hamilton tells the story of America’s founding fathers… all through the medium of hip hop and rap. It has set new standards as to what a successful show on Broadway can be, especially since the story (which is essentially about a bunch of old white guys) is played by predominantly African-American, Hispanic, and Asian actors.
Core: The show is so difficult to get tickets to on Broadway, that it is making plans to go on a national tour. An open casting call has recently been posted on the Hamilton website and has sprung quite the controversy. While the musical was primarily praised for its diverse cast, the show is facing criticism from many for stating that they are looking for specifically NON-WHITE actors. Some are stating that this is discriminatory and violates the New York City Human Rights Law for blatantly excluding a group of people because of their race. The producers stated that Actors Equity, the Broadway Union, has said that they approved the call.
Skin: The media covered this controversial casting call despite any formal complaint being made to the city Commission on Human Rights. Some, like civil rights attorney Randolph McLaughlin, are arguing that the producers should give "every actor eligible for the roll an opportunity to try,” while others, dare I say, are appreciating the the controversial call on the grounds that it is just as revolutionary as the play itself.
Leaves: Whether or not the cast deliberately put out the NON-WHITES only (yes the caps is necessary…) casting call in order to make waves and speak out about whitewashing in the entertainment business is unknown. Either way, it has certainly brought up several questions about the line between creative needs and racial discrimination. The production team stated they fixed the wording on the call, emphasizing that they “welcome people from all ethnicities to audition for Hamilton.” However, the producers also stated that a diverse cast is “essential to the storytelling of Hamilton,” so one has to imagine that they will stick to their guns. As one fan jokingly states on twitter: "that’s not discrimination, that’s fair warning.”
Food For Thought: What do you think of the casting call? Do you think that the show should choose actors of more diverse backgrounds over other actors? Do think this is, in a way, an instance of affirmative action?