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Casting As a First Amendment Right

Updated: Apr 12

Is a casting director allowed to take an actress's race into consideration? According to a recent Southern District of New York case, yes. Here, African American actress Kim Moore was replaced in the cast of Hadestown by a white actress. Ironically, this decision was made to avoid the racial stereotype of the "white savior," as Moore's character was to be freed from forced labor by a character played by a white actor. The court however dismissed Moore's claims of discrimination (while allowing other claims to go forward) affirming precedent upholding an entertainment company's right to make casting decisions for purely creative reasons as protected speech.

Though we at Hannibal Legal acknowledge the long, ugly history of employment discrimination in the U.S., we agree with this outcome. This decision protects an artist's right to full autonomy for executing their vision. This principle allows us to enjoy both racially diverse casts and largely monoethnic casts in brilliant plays, music videos, films and television series.

If your casting decisions have been questioned or you are worried they may be, feel free to contact us for a consultation. We can review your actor contracts (or help you craft them) and work with your publicist to make sure your casting decisions are legally protected and understood by play/movie goers who may be concerned when they learn that a cast member's ethnicity was taken into account when they were selected above other equally talented auditioners of other ethnicities. We at Hannibal Legal respect your vision and will help you bring it to life.

Blog posts do not constitute legal advice nor representation. Consult us or another attorney of your choosing before acting.

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