Hollywood’s history of casting cis actors in trans roles extends back to the very first days of the industry. As trans individuals have become more visible and less vilified, the trend has grown increasingly problematic. Prestige movies and frothy teen soaps are equally culpable of denying opportunities for trans actors, and for every Laverne Cox in Orange is the New Black, there’s a Jared Leto in Dallas Buyers Club.
Now, the Casting Society of America is seeking to stamp out that trend by hosting an international open call for transgender actors — the first of its kind. In a statement yesterday, the CSA announced it would open 30 offices around the world to transgender actors in an effort to “challenge unconscious bias” and “empower casting directors to lead the inclusion conversation.”
“The reasoning that a non diverse ‘star’ gets to play a diverse role because there ‘weren’t enough talented, diverse options’ is an industry myth,” said Russell Boast, VP of CSA. “We’re going to do something about that.”
The call, which extends to both union and non-union actors, as well as “undiscovered gems” who have never acted before, seems to share a spirit with writer/producer Jill Soloway’s hiring practices on the set of Transparent. Soloway, who also created I Love Dick, is known for hiring new, untested transgender talent both on and off the screen. Now, however, Soloway’s pioneering shows won’t be on their own.
“Trans people have worked hard to hone their craft, but rarely get the chance to be seen since so few are represented,” explained Ann Thomas, founder of Transgender Talent.
CSA offices will have their open auditions on Sunday October 22nd.