In my screenwriting class this week, my instructor explained that if you do not signify a race or ethnicity, your character will be assumed to be white. There will be no clarification, no one will ask you to explain, the director and casting agent will create a whites-only casting call for auditions.
This obviously isn’t news. We know that the default for Hollywood is white even though mathematically, according to the demographics of California and the entire world, this is laughably illogical.
I asked him how you signify that you want open casting in your script for any race or ethnicity because you want the best actor for the character.
He didn’t understand and started talking about words like “eurasian” in the descriptive lines following your character’s introduction.
I explained that I wasn’t asking about how to denote racial ambiguity (which is another favorite of Hollywood), rather an actual open casting call that wasn’t limited to white and white passing people.
He said he had never come across this.
Never, in his entire decade+ career, had he ever come across an open casting call.
So when people say shit like, “oh well maybe they just got the best actor for the role!”, they deserve to have their faces slammed into the nearest available surface.
Usually race/ethnicity are not specified but racially coded types (eg. ”Girl Next Door”) are sent out. Sometimes the casting people/writers don’t realize that these tropes are racially coded.
"PLEASE SUBMIT ALL ETHNICITIES" and "ALL ETHNICITIES WELCOME PLEASE SUBMIT" are sometimes used to advertise for roles that are open to seeing everyone.
The problem is that even when roles state that they want to see “all ethnicities” there’s been enough times where productions have said this and not meant it (or said this and cast a disproportionate amount of white actors anyway) that many agents and actors are jaded and no longer trust these casting calls.