An open casting call for Broadway’s hit play “Hamilton” has caused controversy after requesting auditions from non-white actors. As the play looks to expand to other cities, the casting notice has critics up in arms.
Civil rights attorney Randolph McLaughlin believes the ad violates the New York City Human Rights Law.
“What if they put an ad out that said, ‘Whites only need apply?’ ” said McLaughlin to CBS New York. “Why, African-Americans, Latinos, Asians would be outraged.”
The human rights law states that it is unlawful “for an employer… because of the actual written or perceived… race of any person, to discriminate.” McLaughlin said because of the law, employers cannot advertise that they prefer one race over another for a position. He adds that artistically, it’s OK for the Broadway show’s producers to have a preference, but they should allow others to audition equally.
“Hamilton” is noteworthy for prominently featuring actors of color, primarily Blacks and Latinos. It has won praise from critics and audiences for featuring a multicultural cast. But the controversial casting call was not the one approved by the Broadway union Actors Equity. The group says, “…producers agree that auditions for all productions… will be conducted in such a manner as to provide full and fair consideration to actors of all ethnicities.”
An ad that was approved by the group says it seeks “all ethnicities.”
According to The New York Times, “Hamilton” producers will change the posting but not their commitment to diverse casting. A written statement says the creators “regret the confusion that’s arisen from the recent posting of an open call casting notice for the show” but also states “it is essential to the storytelling of “Hamilton” that the principal roles, which were written for nonwhite characters (excepting King George), be performed by nonwhite actors.”
Producer Jerry Seller also issued a statement, saying ” ‘Hamilton’ depicts the birth of our nation in a singular way. We will continue to cast the show with the same multicultural diversity that we have employed thus far.”
“Hamilton” was written by Lin-Manuel Miranda, who also stars in the hit Broadway show. It is about the life and death of Alexander Hamilton and has consistently been sold out.