You’d be hard-pressed to find an industry that isn’t rife with racial biases and prejudices baked into its DNA, and while it’s starting to get called out now more than ever, we still have a long way to go.
The acting world, for one, is still a hotbed of racial insensitivity and ethnic stereotyping and a new webseries called Colour Blind is aiming to “hold a mirror up to the casting industry and ask it to question itself about its commitment to diversity.”
Colour Blind features an old and extremely out of touch (read: racist) casting director named Gavin Walters (Cameron Rhodes) who is completely unaware of his own innate racism when looking for talent.
The hilarious but poignant webseries is written and directed by Home & Away actor Tai Hara, a man who knows all too well what it’s like to be on the receiving end of racial prejudices in the casting room.
“In this current climate there’s a lot of talk about casting directors only wanting people of colour, but our screens don’t reflect that,” he said.
“The reality is that the majority of Australian roles still lean heavily towards Caucasian actors. Where as for people of colour, it still largely comes down to what ethnicity you are and what stereotype you fit.”
Tai says that “one of the real challenges for BIPOC in the industry is just being able to exist as themselves, not being there to fill a quota or tick a certain box.
“No one wants to have to explain their ethnicity for every role they go for and then feel like in some way their being judged on that. The way forward is casting people who are right for the role, then based on that, cater to that persons ethnicity and cultural background; not the other way around.”
Tai Hara (right) also cameos in an episode.
The actor has written the series using his own experiences in the industry and he says that his story is one that many other actors will no doubt relate to.
“In the BIPOC acting community the stories are endless, everyone has one,” he added. “From black actors being told to ‘sound more urban’ and Indigenous actors being asked to ‘sound more rural’ or simply being told that ‘they’re going diverse with the role so you’re in with a shot’. It’s all a lot more common than you’d think.
“I’m not here to throw people under the bus, but the series is a perfect example of all the ways it can and has gone wrong in a casting room for people of colour.”
With the series, Tai aims to demonstrate that “even people with the best intentions, who identify as allies, can still be contributing to casual racism and stereotypes. It’s not good enough to just not be racist, we need to be anti-racist.
“By showing these real-life experiences, we ask the question of what is acceptable and what can we actually be doing to create positive change.”
While the series aims to educate viewers, Tai insists that he’s “definitely not an expert and I don’t know how to make all the fundamental changes needed.”
“The reality is in having these conversations, in contributing and participating, you’re going to trip up, you’re going to get it wrong sometimes but that shouldn’t stop you from trying,” he adds.
“This series holds a mirror up to the industry and ask it to genuinely assess its commitment to diversity. That responsibility doesn’t just fall on actors and casting agents, its writers, producers, networks, the whole creative process. We can all do better.”
Colour Blind is now available on YouTube, with new episodes dropping every week.