When they’re preparing for auditions, aspiring thespians flip through casting calls that might be relevant to their skills, interests, and physical type. Naturally, this proves a stressful process. Yet for women in showbiz, there’s the added indignity of having to scroll through casting calls that ask you to be, essentially, invisible — a prop, or worse.
Recently, actress and writer Katrina Day saw a casting call, called a “breakdown,” for a “beautiful girl, non-speaking” and simply had enough. She poured out her frustration on Facebook. “That one breakdown was just the perfect representation of what I’d been seeing for years in the casting notices I look at every day,” she says. “So, I jokingly pitched a Tumblr to my fellow female actor friends that would serve as a catalog for all the sexist bullshit we see every day, and the whole community just went nuts for the idea.”
And that’s how SomeLadyParts.com was born, in Day’s words, as a “community service.” It’s a growing Tumblr repository of ridiculous sexist casting calls, to be interspersed with first-person accounts of discrimination in the industry.
Some examples of what the blog has already posted:
Yeesh. It’s disheartening for a layperson just to read. But for Day, the experience has been less depressing and more galvanizing.
“It’s far more depressing to be sitting at home, alone in my apartment, scrolling through these insanely demeaning casting calls, knowing that I’m expected to just laugh them off,” she says. “It feels so personal, and so invasive, to be faced with this kind of sexism in private.”
By sharing, and soliciting, the BS with her community, she’s found a way to channel her frustration. “I feel incredibly empowered by making these notices public,” Day says, “Because there are so many other actors out there confirming that they’re experiencing the same thing.”
But also, it’s made her reconsider her own trajectory as an actor. “I feel like I’m figuring out how to be more selective and rigorous in what roles and projects I choose to engage with,” she says.
Day doesn’t want the Tumblr to be limited to calls for bimbos and side-chicks and “Prostitute 1,” though — because that’s only what she herself encounters in a given day. “I’m definitely interested in cataloging all manner of discriminatory or offensive casting calls,” she says. “I’m looking to bring in other actors and artists who are intercepting other kinds of problematic treatment and language.”
There’s one final benefit from the creation of Some Lady Parts (now on Twitter, too!). Day says it’s helping diffuse competition between female actors vying for the same parts, replacing it with a sense of solidarity. As the Tumblr posts more personal accounts and essays, hopefully that sense will only grow.