The hit musical “Hamilton” is causing controversy with open auditions for “non-white” rappers in their “20s to 30s.”
A casting call posted on the show’s website says it is “Seeking NON-WHITE men and women, ages 20s to 30s for Broadway and upcoming Tours.” The New York City auditions are slated for May 3.
The show is known for having a diverse cast, primarily featuring people of color in the leading roles, but the language used in this ad has come under fire from the labor union Actors’ Equity Association.
Maria Somma, the director of communications of Equity, said the union did not review the casting call before it was posted.
“The posting on their website was done by Hamilton and is not an official Equity casting notice nor is it in compliance with our Production Contract language,” Somma said in a statement.
Somma said all the casting calls posted on Equity’s website, as well as on Playbill and Backstage, use the language, “Performers of all ethnic and racial backgrounds are encouraged to attend.”
Additionally, Equity’s production contract says hiring will be conducted “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.”
Both the “non-white” and “20s to 30s” requirements violate that rule.
But a “Hamilton” spokesperson said the language would fall under a “bona fide occupational qualification,” which allows for specific requirements that are necessary for the performance of a job.
“It is essential to the storytelling of ‘Hamilton’ that the principal roles -- which were written for non-white characters (excepting King George) -- be performed by non-white actors,” the statement read. “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 spokesperson said the casting call will be changed to include that people of all ethnicities are welcome at auditions.
But the show still maintains that its diversity is important to the story.
“‘Hamilton’ depicts the birth of our nation in a singular way,” producer Jeffrey Seller said in the statement. “We will continue to cast the show with the same multicultural diversity that we have employed thus far.”
The city’s Commission on Human Rights, which enforces anti-discrimination laws that include laws against discrimination in employment ads, said no complaints have been filed in regard to the “Hamilton” ad.