Earlier this week, the casting agents for the blockbuster Broadway mainstay Hamilton came under fire after a casting call for the musical began making its way around the internet. The casting call, which was posted on both the show’s website and on the popular casting/auditions site Backstage, featured a line specifying that the agents were looking for “NON-WHITE” performers, capitalization in tow.
Of course, given our nation’s proclivity toward immediately pointing out anything that doesn’t include white people, the post circulated through every social media channel and found many people complaining about the casting call’s discriminatory wording.
In a response to the drama, the show’s producers released a statement:
It is essential to the storytelling of “Hamilton” that the principal roles — which were written for non-white characters (excepting King George) — be performed by non-white actors. This adheres to the accepted practice that certain characteristics in certain roles constitute a ‘bona fide occupational qualification’ that is legal. This also follows in the tradition of many shows that call for race, ethnicity or age specific casting, whether it’s “The Color Purple” or “Porgy & Bess” or “Matilda.” The casting will be amended to also include language we neglected to add, that is, we welcome people of all ethnicities to audition for “Hamilton.”
The producers followed through on their statement, later altering the post’s wording. Though, as indicated in their response, many of the show’s roles were written, specifically, for performers of color, so they still kept the phrase “non-white actors,” opting instead to not capitalize it. Additionally, they included a disclaimer at the bottom, clarifying, “Performers of all ethnic and racial backgrounds are encouraged to attend.”