The Hamilton “no whites need apply” casting call has landed the Broadway show in possible legal trouble. The cattle call for only non-white actors has been deemed racist by some and in violation of the city’s anti-discrimination laws.
The Hamilton Broadway casting call posted on the production’s website called for only “NON-WHITE men and women, ages 20s to 30s, for Broadway and upcoming tours.” The ad also stated the call was for singers who can rap — no previous theater experience was required, the New York Daily News reports.
— Los Angeles Times (@latimes) March 31, 2016
Civil rights attorney Ron Kuby does not agree with those who maintain the no whites need apply Hamilton casting call is racist but added it could violate the New York City’s human rights law.
President Barack Obama is a fan of Hamilton and jokingly took credit for its creation when he introduced its producers and actors during a visit to the White House.
“Hamilton is about having minority actors in the position of founding fathers,” Kuby said. “It’s almost always illegal to advertise on the basis of race, but when you’re casting… it can be a bona fide occupational requirement. Same issue on age. I don’t have to cast an elderly white guy if my [project] is about a young black man.”
Fellow attorney and New York City employment lawyer David Wimms feels the Hamilton Broadway casting call is a race-specific job advertisement and notes it probably violates local, state, and federal anti-discrimination statutes. Wimms is currently involved in a reverse discrimination lawsuit that was filed against the New York City Fire Department.
“I would think it is illegal, in addition to discriminating, publishing discriminatory statements is also illegal,” Wimms added.
Hamilton auditions are scheduled to take place in Los Angeles and San Francisco in April and in New York City in May, the Daily Caller notes.
The best part about that Hamilton casting notice pic.twitter.com/VakUsCZ75Y
— Matthew A. Cherry (@MatthewACherry) March 29, 2016
The Actors’ Equity group and similar organizations that represent professional theater performers have come out against the all capital letters “NON-WHITE” Hamilton casting call notice. Actors’ Equity representative Maria Somma says the phrasing used in the Broadway notice is not consistent with the group’s policies.
“It is advisable to take an affirmative approach, rather than an exclusionary one,” Alliance for Inclusion in the Arts Interim Director Howard Sherman said.
Hamilton production officials have called the “confusion” about the Broadway casting call advertisement regrettable.
Here’s an excerpt from a statement released from by the Hamilton production company after the firestorm of controversy began.
“It is essential to the storytelling… that the principal roles — which were written for non-white characters (excepting King George) — be performed by non-white actors.”
Lawsuit claims that a Hamilton casting call for ‘non-white’ actors is illegal https://t.co/azlkHc5jAHpic.twitter.com/0NR3oDhEj4
— Fusion (@ThisIsFusion) March 30, 2016
Hamilton is a two-hour-and-45-minute-long musical. The show will host a Chicago performance on September 27, 2016, at the Private Bank Theatre. The Broadway hit show begins its national tour in San Francisco in March 2017 at the SHN Orpheum Theatre. The show then moves on to Los Angeles on August 11, 2017. The show will remain at the Hollywood Pantages Theatre until December 30, 2017.
Hamilton is only appropriate for children age 10 and older due to “strong language” in the musical, according to the production website. Children under the age of 4 are not permitted in the theater for any of the scheduled showings.
What do you think about the no whites need apply Hamilton casting call? Is it racism?
[Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images]