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Opening up the stage, screen and airwaves

The lack of diversity on our stages, screens, airwaves and online is a big issue for people working in the entertainment industry.

Too often, talented people aren’t cast in roles they would be perfect for. They aren’t given enough notice before an audition to secure childcare. They can’t afford to travel to meet the casting director. They physically can’t access an audition space.

Equity, the trade union representing performers, believes this is all preventable. They are seeking to change the audition process, and ensure good practice principles are adopted which ensure that casting is fairer, clearer, less stressful and more inclusive for all. To help make that happen, they have created the Manifesto for Casting.

The manifesto seeks to give all talented performers a chance to excel, regardless of their age, gender, ethnicity, sexuality or socioeconomic background. It also underscores that actors should not be forced to move to London to pursue their careers, or give up their ambitions when they assume caring responsibilities.

They want to widen the net and open up opportunities for all parties: performers, casting directors, agents and audiences.

Vicky McClure, well-known for her role as Lol Jenkins in This is England, said:

There are plenty of rags-to-riches stories on stage and screen, but the reality is it’s incredibly difficult for performers from less privileged backgrounds to get an opportunity in this business. We need a casting process that recognises the many barriers people have to overcome to get into the audition room.

General Secretary Christine Payne said:

Our industries will only thrive by attracting and retaining professional talent, regardless of background or circumstances, to meet the ever growing demands for audio and audio-visual creative content on stage, on screen, online and on demand. This manifesto will be used by the union to seek the changes that will ensure the continued success of our creative industries.

Alongside the Manifesto for Casting, Equity has produced a Casting Questions Card that outlines how employers, agents and casting directors can ensure they are acting inclusively and within the law when they represent, audition and employ actors.

Find out more about Equity and how to become a member.

Photo: Equity