Hamilton, a Broadway musical that has people of diverse ethnic backgrounds playing white historical figures, recently posted a casting notice that some people say discriminated against white people.
The notice specifically requested nonwhite performers, and Randolph McLaughlin, of the Newman Ferrara Law Firm, said it was in direct violation of New York City's human rights law, according to CBS News.
"What if they put an ad out that said, 'Whites only need apply'? Why, African Americans, Latinos, Asians would be outraged," McLaughlin said.
But producers of the musical are adamant that it is not in violation. Jeffrey Seller, producer of Hamilton, issued a statement about the casting notice:
Hamilton depicts the birth of our nation in a singular way. We will continue to cast the show with the same multicultural diversity that we have employed thus far.
The producers of Hamilton regret the confusion that's arisen from the recent posting of an open call casting notice for the show. It is essential to the storytelling of Hamilton that the principal roles—which were written for nonwhite characters (excepting King George)—be performed by nonwhite actors. This adheres to the accepted practice that certain characteristics in certain roles constitute a "bona fide occupational qualification" that is legal. This also follows in the tradition of many shows that call for race, ethnicity or age specific casting, whether it's The Color Purple or Porgy & Bess or Matilda. The casting will be amended to also include language we neglected to add, that is, we welcome people of all ethnicities to audition for Hamilton.
Actors Equity Association spokeswoman Maria Somma, however, told Playbill said that the casting call was inconsistent with the association's policy:
The Hamilton call on their website is inconsistent with Equity's policy. All of our calls have the following language: "Performers of all ethnic and racial backgrounds are encouraged to attend." We also have strong language in our Production Contract agreement which states, "The parties hereto affirm their commitment to the policy that employment hereunder shall be without discrimination on the basis of sex, race, color, creed, national origin, age, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity and/or expression or political persuasion or belief. Consistent with the foregoing and with the procedure set forth in Rule 5(E)(4), it is the intention of the parties that the casting of productions will be conducted in a manner which provides equal and fair consideration to all Actors including, but not limited to: Actors with disabilities, ethnic minorities, seniors and women."
It's amazing how no one ever speaks out about the hundreds of Broadway plays and musicals that are cast with so few people of color, but the second people of color are offered opportunities, people want to come out of their little legal offices and scream racism.