Gemma Lowy Hamilton has actors in uproar after she stated, “receiving breakdowns for BAME actors (Black, Asian and minority ethnic actors) boring” in a facebook post last week. In a period where ‘Everyone is talking about Jamie’ is exploding across the West End, Talawa producing and casting a full black cast of ‘Guys and Dolls’ and theatre publication ‘The Stage’ exploring LGBTQ in theatre, It seems that we may finally have taken some steps to seeking diversity in the arts and attempting to open roles up to BAME actor’s that explore more than their pigment. However Gemma, at Lowy Hamilton Associates, had some opposing thoughts to casting being opened exclusively to BAME actors ; her post suggested that this effort to create diversity is (I quote) a quest to add “Va Va Voom” to new productions, and proclaimed that this type of casting “is putting talented ‘white’ performers out of work”.
TPOTD:COLLECTIVE members, Keiran Mcginn and Vanessa Fisher filmed an open letter to Gemma on her statement, in efforts to further the discussion, speak on their own experience as BAME Actors and their opinions on the industry today.
Though her Facebook post has outraged the BAME performing arts community, it has also opened a forum amongst others, giving a face to those who have similar opinions. The key traits to the arts have always been it’s progressive personality, it boisterousness with handling taboo topics and flirty nature when addressing politics – however it seems that no matter how progressive the industry may be, it is not exempt from issues regarding tolerance or the strong threads of elitism that plague other sectors. For BAME performers these debates have forged a community who’ve been actively screaming for change for decades; however there are some who A) Don’t even realise why the need is there, B) Have the power to make change but afraid to take the ‘risk’, or C) Those who evidently strongly oppose it.
Video By Vanessa Fisher and Keiran Mcginn
Words By Daniel Bailey