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Casting Society of America and Trans Performers and Filmmakers Collaborate for Transgender Casting Inclusivity Event

June 4, 2016

Diversity Workshop

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Dansby Photography


Los Angeles, CA (June 4 th 2016) At a historic gathering in Los Angeles June 4th & 5th, members of the Casting Society of America volunteered their time to provide training and information to transgender Actors, Writers, Directors and Casting Directors hoping to take the next step in their entertainment industry careers. Organized by the CSA Diversity Committee, sponsored by the SAGAFTRA LGBT Committee and facilitated by Ann Thomas of Transgender Talent, LLC, the two day seminar and interactive work session was attended by over 70 transgender performers and filmmakers.

“Casting Directors have always been on the forefront of pushing the boundaries of diversity. We get to suggest a woman instead of a man for a role, encouraged to suggest different ethnicities, age ranges and we'd like to believe that most of the time, we get hired to think “outofthebox” whilst still serving the material, our Directors visions and our Producers wishes. It is our duty to embrace the trans community by listening to them and then educating our writers, show runners, Directors and studio executives” said Russell Boast current Vice President of CSA and organizer of this CSA Diversity event.

“Shows like Transparent are to this community what Will and Grace were to the gay community over 10 years ago. Giving the transgender community a positive voice in the entertainment industry, is way, way overdue,” says Boast. On Saturday, Casting Director and CSA Board Member, Marci Liroff ( E.T./ Indiana Jones / Mean Girls ), led a lecture style presentation including; An Introduction to Casting, The Casting Process and Audition Tips and Techniques and then introduced and interviewed Candis Cayne, the first transgender actress to play a recurring transgender character on primetime Television. A Q & A and an emotional and inspiring open discussion between members of CSA and the trans filmmaking community followed the interview.

“This type of collaboration between established industry professionals and the trans community is key to ensuring that trans people can find employment both in front of and behind the camera. And as more trans people make their voices heard, trans storytelling will become more authentic and respectful," said Nick Adams, director of GLAAD's Transgender Media Program.

On Sunday CSA Members, Amanda Lenker Doyle, Jeremy Gordon, Geralyn Flood and Jami Rudofsky worked with participants in smaller groups further exploring the Casting process and giving actors an opportunity to do scene work.

Actor, Comedian and National cochair of SAG AFTRA LGBT committee Jason Stuart said of the event; “It was amazing to watch the Casting Director's interact with the trans actors in this historic workshop. There has been so much growth in the last five years in terms of the openness to working with LGBT actors, the train has left the station and there is no way to turn back.” Fellow SAG AFTRA committee member, Gary Riotto added, “ Creating opportunities for LGBT performers as well as continuing to shed light on the nuanced challenges that Transgender (as well as LGB) performers face within our business is imperative. With the help of many, this event has helped us take one more step toward true and diverse representation."

The CSA Diversity Committee for 2016 includes Boast, Leah Daniels Butler and Michael Sanford. “So often the word Diversity is tossed around regarding what needs to be done and now we are making an effort by not just talking but actually doing! Our goal is to have these ongoing free classes with amazing talent who face diverse challenges in the entertainment industry and be able to introduce them to our colleagues, Producers and Directors,” says Daniels, Casting Director for FOX’s award winning show Empire.

CSA’s goal is to run free Diversity classes every other month offering communities an opportunity to access Casting Directors and learn from industry professionals while introducing diverse communities to Casting as a possible career path.

About the CSA

The Casting Society of America (CSA) was founded in February of 1982 with the intention of establishing a recognized standard of professionalism in the casting field and providing its members with a support organization to further their goals and protect their common interests.

CSA currently boasts more than 700 members. CSA Casting Directors and Associates work around the world, with members based in the United States, Canada, Europe, Australia and Africa.

The CSA is a global resource for producers, directors and creative teams seeking casting professionals, while promoting the image of casting directors and associates worldwide, engaging in a number of charitable activities, and supporting its members by sharing important and helpful professional information. For more information on the Casting Society of America, please visit http://www.CastingSociety.com

About SAGAFTRA

SAGAFTRA represents approximately 160,000 actors, announcers, broadcast journalists, dancers, DJs, news writers, news editors, program hosts, puppeteers, recording artists, singers, stunt performers, voiceover artists and other media professionals. SAGAFTRA members are the faces and voices that entertain and inform America and the world. With national offices in Los Angeles and New York and local offices nationwide, SAGAFTRA members work together to secure the strongest protections for media artists into the 21st century and beyond. Visit SAGAFTRA online at SAGAFTRA.org . Follow SAGAFTRA on Twitter ( twitter.com/sagaftra ), YouTube ( youtube.com/sagaftra ) and Facebook ( facebook.com/sagaftra ).

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