by Ari Groover
Let's talk about our favorite thing in the world (not really), auditioning. As a performer, doing the show is essential and vital. Unfortunately, we have to book the job first. Auditioning can be just as taxing as actually performing.
I remember going to an audition about five years ago. It was a fun, until I got the note that I was too urban for this particular show. This show was using elements that was taken from the Black experience and culture. A culture that I have been a part of my entire life, but I was told that I was too "urban" for it.
This is frequent for me and a lot of other performers of color, because of the lack of representation behind the creative table and casting. Auditioning truly bums me out sometimes! I am too Black, not Black enough, not Latin enough, too urban, too Afrocentric, great voice for recording, but not musical theater. They say “we love what you do, but where can we place you? You don’t fit the norm (or in other terms, you don’t fit any of the stereotypes we think of)!” Auditioning will always be a journey of ups and downs, but maybe it’s time to create our own lanes.
I am tired of waiting for some to give me an opportunity to do something that doesn’t necessarily show me or represent my culture in the way that it should. There aren’t enough people of color behind the creative table and that truly has to change. They love the energy that we bring into this world, but don't see us as being a driving force or character in shows. It sucks when we have a show that is based off the experience or perspective of people of color, having a creative team that is all white and male (because gender plays a role in this, too).
Personally, I have a hard time having a creative team that is all White try to tell me the experience of a Black woman in this day and age, when they have not done the work or research on their part. We are not stereotypes, we are multi-faceted people with true complexities. With that being said, we are also more than just a equal opportunity quota that people can fill out to say, "We are diverse."
Yes, it’s easy to take things personally, especially in this industry. However, we have to have honest and true dialogue about this and spark change. I always hope that creatives truly take the time to hear artists of color. We have a voice. We have the ability to create our own stories, but why do we stop ourselves and get in our own ways? We have resources and other creative friends who are going through the same process that we should be collaborating ideas with. Is it because of money or is it because of fear? I know for me it’s both, but we have to stop using fears or excuses as a crutch.
I say grab a group of your creative friends that you really trust and start an artist collective. Share ideas and make sure we are not contributing to the stereotypes that has been place upon us. We as people of color also have to realize that we have the ability to progress the stereotypes that were put upon us, because we feel like that the only way we are seen is by playing in that stereotype. You never know: your work could change the face of this entertainment business.