I recently emailed a very well known and successful Irish casting website to cancel my subscription. I was told that I was not allowed to do so. They stated that the membership is an annual price paid monthly, I have to wait for the year to end to stop making payments. The response I received was fully equipped with picture proof that I signed up for the year. The reason I wanted to cancel my membership however, had nothing to do with money and it had everything to do with the redundancy of such a service for someone like me.
That is, a person of colour in Ireland. Almost every single ad posted in the last few months that required a female of my age group, required a white female of my age group. It wasn’t so blatantly stated in the ads (although it should be for they’d have no issue saying “Black female” or “Asian male wanted”), it was very much implied in their specs which state things such as “blonde” or “natural red head”, but perhaps they don’t need to say “Caucasian” (I counted only one ad that did) because it’s implied, in Ireland, that the lead is going to be white (unless otherwise stated)?
A few years ago, the last time I was a member of the site, I was called for every single ad that required a black female, there was a few back then. The only ads I was called fit into two categories:
1. African farmer/maid/nurse, etc.
2. A scene which requires people of many races to show how diverse and accepting a particular company, community or place is.
There’s the two options – You’re either used to show diversity in a scene or used to represent the common misconceptions that people have of black people today.
The love interest? The main character? No, Ireland is not ready for that yet. It’s only ready to use you to portray to the world that it is ready.
I don’t often watch TV but earlier this year I caught a black family as the main focus in a British ad (on British TV, of course) I was amazed. For the entire week I ran to the TV everytime I saw it in the background. British media seems to be a few more years ahead when it comes to casting these days. You might respond with “But there are more black people in Britain” and I would argue that that is completely irrelevant. First, if that was the case, I would argue that the black community is definitely significant enough in size to be represented. Secondly, it shouldn’t matter how many people are a part of it, if it exits, it should be represented. And if not represented, the least one can do is to not misrepresent it. It doesn’t matter that there are more black people in Britain and I don’t care if it’s not me in those videos, the only thing that matters is that the Irish media is using people of colour for their own agenda and that needs to stop.
I understand that this isn’t a problem that starts or stops with the black community and I certainly do not speak for the entire black community but it’s the one I’ll speak from today.
I’ve since made another request to cancel my subscription and this time I’ve sent them the reason why. I understand that they’re he not the cause of the problem but I’ll argue that they are part of the problem, I also understand that they have every right to continue taking payments until the end of the “contract” but they too need to understand that – If you have nothing to offer me but silence and stereotypes, then I want nothing to do with you.