Production has begun on Straight Outta Compton, the biopic about N.W.A. and Universal Studios is looking to cast more people for it.
They’re apparently working with Sande Allesi Casting, and the agency posted a call for the film that placed women in the categories A-B-C-D (it was on the agency’s Facebook page but was deleted. Gawker has the text).
The casting call created a pyramid of girls needed and ranked it in a way that is so offensive that I almost want to laugh at its wrongness and boldness. Did Donald Sterling write this? I read it and asked Jesus to take the wheel, hold my mule and be a fence.
There are the A-ladies who are the “hottest of the hottest.” Some magical formula that only they know will determine who falls under this category, but candidates’ hair must be real, and they must be “classy.” You know wearing a weave means you’re automatically unworthy of nice things like top ranking. sarcasm font. It’s implied that you must be light-skinned here.
For the B-Girls, it tells folks to use Beyoncé as a prototype. In whose world IS Yawnce not A-type? What bald-headed games are they playing here? Where is the Bey Hive to drag them just for that alone? Anyway, the ladies who fall into this should be light-skinned and they also cannot be weave wearers. Although if Bey is the prototype, then that’s contradictory. Yall know Blue Ivy’s mama loves her some glorious lacefronts.
C-girls are allowed to have a weave, and they have to be “medium to light-skinned.” But D-girls? Well it can be anybody, especially you dark skin people. They want “Poor, not in good shape.” Let me get this straight. When they finally want dark girls, they want to make sure they’re in terrible shape. I bet you this character will have a stingy paintbrush ponytail and be eating chicken as she swerves her neck and calls an A or B-girl “an uppity light skin bitch.”
To add insult to injury, people who submit themselves for consideration have to self-segment and put in the subject what category of girl they fall under. There are levels to this humiliation tree, and they want people to hit every branch.
The fact that this obnoxious casting call notice could ever be written, let alone approved and then posted, shows that we have not come as far as we think we have on the issue of color politics in Hollywood. This is a film being produced by one of the biggest movie studios, and the women in it are reduced to a caste system of skintone and whether their hair is grown from their own scalp. I’m appalled.
This speaks loudly in an industry that has not been kind to Black women, and it seems committed to excluding us as valuable members of society who are whole, varied and complex. Apparently, dark skin girls were the Quasimodos of 1980s Compton. Basically, Hollywood is full of basic-minded executives who still believe the paper bag test is valid.
This is a movie about the lives of one of the most prolific rap groups ever, and characters in it are still being white washed (or should I say light washed)? I’m sure all the “girls around the way” weren’t light-skinned with long, natural hair. I bet that the women that those men liked and loved and cherished weren’t just clones of Rihanna and Beyonce. Besides, wasn’t the era of NWA the era of the jheri curl?
This casting call is so distasteful that I feel the offense in my throat. It’s racist, it’s reductive, and it’s just utterly narrow in its idea of what beauty is. And that’s at the most basic level. At a human level, this ranking of girls needed by skin tone is devaluing. The clear message here is that dark girls who might not have great bodies are the lowest of the low, while light girls with long hair are the only ones who are beautiful. This isn’t even a deep read into it either. It’s blatant. It cannot be any clearer.
This just feeds into the prevailing (and tired) message that light is right and dark is wack. It’s another reminder that we have some mountains to overcome because the color complex struggle is real. But I’m going to need to take a nap first because the climb up looks long and treacherous.
(Luvvie is a serial ranter and blogger who talks pop culture at Awesomely Luvvie, technology at Awesomely Techie and is the head behind DumbestTweets.com. She can also be found on Twitter (@Luvvie), Facebook and Instagram.)