Hollywood has been ravaged by controversy regarding gender pay gaps, female discrimination and racial typecasting for decades. Today, a woman cannot even age naturally in the business without being attacked with a barrage of criticism for become more undesirable.
A report released last September confirmed that women were grotesquely underrepresented and discriminated against on camera: According to the stats, there is currently one female for every 2.24 male characters and only 30.9% of female speaking roles. And when they aren't reading a line, women are most likely appearing as sexualized objects or in the nude.
An actress calling herself Miss L (who remains anonymous to protect her acting career) knows only too well the distinctions between men and women in the business. As a result, she has spoken out against the controversy surrounding casting calls and the pressure for female actors to take their clothes off.
"Women [are] expected to be young, attractive and naked"
Speaking to MTV about her project, the actress says:
"You’ll have a casting where there are three male characters who all conveniently keep their clothes on, and then there’s one woman who is generally younger, described in terms of her looks rather than what job she does, and also happens to be naked for most of the film. That’s what seems to be the most common thing I come across — women expected to be young, attractive and naked.”
To spread the word on the issue and share bad experiences to help actresses shape their careers, Miss L has ingeniously created a tumblr called "Casting Call Woe." Taking many popular tweets and experiences from actresses all over the world, she compiled a selection of crappy casting calls in Hollywood, such as these:
The blog serves as a support system
Since the project began, it has helped many ladies in the industry recognize their worth and has urged producers to come head-to-head with the issue. Miss L says:
“I do get people contacting me now saying, ‘I need to put a casting out for this film, but I’m really worried that you’re going to say something about it. What can I do to make sure you don’t?’”
She also adds:
“People here are aware of what I do — at least the ones who are doing their jobs properly. The casting directors and producers and filmmakers that follow me generally are the ones that are doing the right thing, because they’re aware of how ridiculous it is themselves. They’re just as aware of the people in their profession doing it wrong, and bringing their name down. But it’s been interesting, speaking to them and seeing it from their side.”
Yet she would like to reiterate that her intention is not to fully remove female nudity from the big screen - sometimes getting naked is necessary to make a scene work! Instead, she says:
“[Nudity]‘s got its place, it’s not like I don’t think it should ever happen on screen. But filmmakers have got a responsibility to reassure actors as part of the casting… just say it will be a closed set. [...] It’s not just about getting rid of naked female characters, it’s about the standards of the actual filmmaking process, and the understanding of what actors are putting themselves through."
Should women be equally judged on acting ability rather than sex appeal?
I think this blog is doing a great service by highlighting these issues from a more light-hearted perspective, while also looking into the darker side of casting call expectations for men and women.
Miss L also comes hot on the heels of more prominent actresses who have spoken out against gender discrimination in Hollywood, namely Oscar-winning Patricia Arquette.
At the Oscars ceremony last month, Arquette urged the industry to make changes to the gender pay gap in the acting business. Like Miss L, she also stated that the inequality surrounding women in Hollywood is simply a rampant reflection of the frustrating discrimination in society.