I saw a breakdown on Actors Access that said: "Early to mid 20's. The ethnicity is open. White or Hispanic is preferred." This REALLY bugged me almost more than the "Nudity Required" in student films. Almost. Anywho I am disturbed because I feel like if a director wants a specific type, he/she should just say that and stick to it. Why even have the ethnicity open then? It seems like an, "I prefer this type, but I'll settle for this type". It sounded like a good character to play, and I couldn't decide whether or not to submit for the role. In the end I submitted myself (I'm black by the way) but now I'm regretting it. I mean wouldn't an actor feel inferior in the audition room knowing full well that they are really not being considered unless by some stroke of bad luck they weren't able to find a White or Latina actress? Am I making a bigger deal out of this than necessary? Thanks in advance for taking the time to read this.This is an excellent question and I'm glad you asked. I'm sure you've actually had a similar experience already when you go to a commercial audition and the room is filled with everyone from the rainbow. In fact, I had an audition a few days ago where there were two women with short afros laughing with the session runner that the copy actually read "A mostly Caucasian woman..." What does that even mean!? And what did it mean to those giggling women who were coffee colored, the Asian actress, and the rest of us milky ones?
It means: options.
Directors, producers, and advertising companies don't even know what they want until she walks in the door, acts her socks off, and is perfect for the role. "She's exactly what we're looking for!" they say, even though the breakdown they put out says the complete opposite.
For open ethnicity, I say submit away. Be the option they didn't even know they wanted. Because if they bring you in, if ANYONE brings you in to an audition, they really are hoping that YOU are the one who books the role.
You ask, "wouldn't an actor feel inferior in the audition room knowing full well that they are really not being considered...?" But you are being considered.
Maybe I am wearing a pair of beautiful rose colored glasses, but when I was casting a few projects, and we had open ethnicity, I brought in everyone from modelesque, to pretty, to character, to extreme character. It gave us a wider net, and all the reads were different based on who was reading.
And if you ever feel inferior in the audition room, remember - even in a room filled with other African American women, I guarantee you are the only one who looks like you. So every single time you are in a waiting room, be it filled with others your type, or where you're the other option, know that no matter what, there's only one Aisha who looks like you. Act well, show all your acting strengths, and they won't see a black woman reading her sides...
They'll see an Actress who's perfect for the role.
Break a leg at all your auditions!