Racism ageism and sexism at the CBC
A casting call to hire a new CBC host that specifically said white people need not apply has been withdrawn, with the casting agent offering apologies for the mistake.
The original ad for the host of a children’s show, posted on the casting agency’s website under a CBC logo and on Craigslist, said: “Please only submit [an audition tape] if you match the following criteria:
Male between the ages of 23-35 years;
Any race except Caucasian.”
A new version of the ad removes the race reference, but maintains the sex and age restrictions and that applicants “must be able to carry a tune,” “ability to dance or move well is a bonus,” and should be “not afraid to show a silly side,” among others.
The revised casting call was issued and the Craigslist ad deleted Monday after critics on Twitter started questioning the restriction.
The exclusion shocked many, including Alex Guibord, a communications consultant in Toronto.
“It is wrong in any ad to exclude people — women need not apply, specific races need not apply, gays can’t apply,” he said in an interview.
Adding that he is of mixed race and gay, he thinks exclusionary policies are out of line: “You’re trying to be more inclusive, visually, by being exclusionary.”
The independent agency contracted by the CBC to post the ad said it was a mistake.
“We apologize. We made a mistake and we’re apologizing profusely,” said Larissa Mair of Larissa Mair Casting and Associates Inc.
“I’m mortified,” she said.
“We were asked to seek a cast of diversity. We mistakenly took that to mean that the production was not seeking Caucasian actors. This was a mistake that was made entirely by the casting company.
“Of course, it’s open to all ethnicities,” she said.
Chuck Thompson, head of media relations for CBC English Services, said the language in the ad was regrettable but the public broadcaster was indeed looking for diversity.
“At CBC, inclusion and diversity is a priority. This means reflecting Canada and its regions as well as the country’s multicultural and multiracial nature,” says a letter the CBC provides casting agencies, forwarded by Mr. Thompson.
“As a part of our commitment to this priority, we are now reaching out to our partners in production to ensure that a concerted and documented effort be made … to cast actors who reflect Canada’s diversity,” the letter says.
“Our focus in this latest initiative is simply to ensure that our search to find the best talent is broad and inclusive.”
Said Mr. Thompson: “Regrettably, in this particular case, it’s clear that our language was not used but it will be corrected.”
The show being cast was Patty and Mamma Yamma. In past Kids’ CBC shows, Mamma Yamma is a yam puppet who runs a fruit and vegetable stand in Toronto’s Kensington Market.
The casting call also offers tips for applicants.
“Make it your own and show off your personality. We’re not looking for someone to play a character, but to be himself,” it says. “The lighting and sound are key — we want to be able to clearly see and hear you, so shoot your audition somewhere quiet and well lit.”
Applicants must also submit a photo and résumé.
The audition script to be performed features a host talking directly to young viewers.
“Oh hi! I’m so glad you’re here!” the script reads. “It’s ‘Healthy Me’ week, and I was just about to do some exercises to help me get strong and healthy. Hey … why don’t you do them with me?”
The host then runs on the spot while ad libbing to the audience.
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