Where's the Diversity at Auditions?

Alex Chester

OnStage New York Columnist

As I sit here in the audition waiting room for an ECC (that’s equity chorus call for you nonactors), I am saddened and pissed off by what I see. Three black girls and me the one “Asian”. Where the hell are my ladies of color at? Where are my fellow Hapas (multiracial people), Asian singers, and dancers? Instead, there is just a bunch of white chicks, and let me be perfectly clear, there is nothing wrong with being a white chick. This post is not about hate of white folk. Cause that’s just stupid. I’m half white and some of my dearest friends are white. This post is about representation or lack thereof.

We are so underrepresented in the theatre world. We are rarely seen, if at all, for a role outside of the standard “Asian” show, yet we don’t show up to auditions that don’t specifically specify seeking Asians.

I get it. I hate an ECC as much as then next person. Of course, I’d rather have an appointment from my agent, but that doesn’t always happen. Sometimes we have to shove our faces in front of casting/directors/producers again and again. Sometimes we have to work harder than the typical “white” girl/boy to get seen. Sometimes we have to work harder than other people of color (POC) because so often the world is seen only in two colors. Black and white. And so many times we get in our heads about an audition. We start to think we aren’t the right “look” or “type”. I have often heard myself and many others say “casting won’t want me, I’m too ethnic”, or  “I’m not the right ethnicity” or to be perfectly blunt “casting is only going to hire a Black person, not an Asian”.  In fact all of these sentiments may be true, but nothing will change if you don’t take matters into your own hands.

I don’t know about you but I want to play roles that aren’t usually portrayed by a POC. I want to tell stories from the great American musical comedies, and I don’t give a shit if the role is typically performed by a white person. I want to be Millie, Dorothy, Ado Annie, Eliza, Sally, Eva. I am sick of getting in my own way of roles I want, because at the end of the day I just want to tell stories. I want to have a chance to have my voice heard amongst the thousands of actors living in New York City.

I am tired my friends. I am tired of hearing from everyone how we are underrepresented yet we don’t show up. You want to change the Great White Way? Then put your money where your mouth is and show up. Together we are stronger and a louder voice. Together we can change the status quo. Showing up to an audition that is typically “white” is a form of protest. It sends the message that we, the Asian American community is here. We will be seen, our voices will be heard. I can play something else besides “Tuptim”. Because diversity works, but ya gotta show up and do the work.