7th July 2020

DIVERSI-FREE

In light of the recent and current BLM movement, we have come together and individually to think, listen, learn and change. As an agency which cherishes diversity, thus being comprised of individuals from different backgrounds, countries, ethnic groups, speaking different languages; we have found this period to be pivotal in navigating and confronting each other on our relationships with diversity, also with relation to the acting industry.

We began the conversation by attempting to define the term itself and the meaning we attribute to it in our lives. Diversity is difference, variety and wealth of expression; the non-homogenous nature of it binds everything together as it is intrinsically essential both to nature and society, thus defining life. Without diversity life would be stagnant, since being exposed to it gives you a bigger knowledge of what surrounds by broadening your horizon.

Diversity also defines our personalities and values and is an attribute that pushes us to explore the unknown, take risks, diverge from common patterns and leave our comfort zone.

Therefore, diversity is important to us and brings a whole set of values into our lives. It gives us a place in the world and by understanding it and being confronted with it is makes us listen and appreciate the multiplicity of individuals with different opinions and views to ours, offering a constant and free stream of education. As a result, it guides our ability to learn and re-consider opinions and ideas by challenging our own views and ways of acting. Diversity also extends to how we function as a society and it is essential in any democratic process. Nevertheless, a multitude of voices and participation from a representative sample of the population is a bare minimum for a society to advance the way it serves its members in any fair way.

Unfortunately, diversity is often the reason for conflict; we reflected upon ‘diversity-triggered’ friction and discrimination on a personal level and with regards to the acting industry.

All of us agreed that having a non-native accent in the acting world often isn’t celebrated as a unique trait but rather leads us to missing out on many opportunities and being considered as outsiders. Our hope is that one day, borders might melt away, and that there will be less focus on nationality. We feel that the acting industry has a lot of catching up to do with regards to diverse casting. We as humans tend to make a sense off the world by putting things in boxes and labelling the latter; it makes the world less complex and easier to navigate. Likewise, this still is what most of the casting breakdowns cater to – an audience that wants to see the same boxes they have been made to believe in over the decades – as the one correct way to label the world. Nevertheless, almost always casting breakdowns describe a box based on colour, size, accent, gender… We wonder whether it would be possible to omit notes of skin colour, size, gender, accent from breakdowns and how would it purport a positive shift.

Furthermore, POC of the agency expressed a concern with “white” often being portrayed as the standard, the normal which opened up a very significant tangent on white privilege and the importance of acknowledging it in order to eradicate it. This shifted the focus towards the BLM movement and in particular how it has affected us and what it has taught us.

We have all felt deeply affected by the unfairness and horror that has sparked the movement and realised we have to keep learning from each other, in order to become better allies. The fact that many of us were oblivious to how racism is still deep-routed in society proves that we have to wake up, become aware and face this in order to attain a balance. There’s always a way to support and there’s still so much to do; we are all reading, watching and contributing, for instance by supporting artists and entrepreneurs from diverse backgrounds. 

Our hope is that this historical moment will shift paradigms and help us to finally lay the foundations to a non-prejudiced society. In order to obtain this we need more diversity, better access to education, and more integration. A society with a more diverse population will grow to be more tolerant and harmonious and an investment in continuous education is an investment in the advancement of the critical thinking of a society. 

It requires perseverance and for everyone to set this new standard for themselves, no matter what challenges it causes them personally, and hold themselves accountable to it – both in the small every day thoughts and in bigger actions. Even and especially our industry has a big part to play in shaping future generations, experiences and beliefs.

So, let’s do this, let’s re-design our stage TOGETHER.


   Renée Marie Pizzardi
   

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