How to get acting work in the UK if you are an ethnic minority actor
Lets start with what is the definition of an ethnic minority actor?
Is this based on the colour on the colour of the skin or on the country of origin?
In the health arena, an ethnic minority person used to be one that had a shade of skin slighter darker than white, tanned ,olive,black( though no-one is really black just varying shades of brown) and Mediterranean. However now with the influx of more people from the EU, there is a new ethnic minority. So how does this work in the acting field?
My interpretation, and I emphasis my interpretation of ethnic minority actor , is one whose skin is not the classical white pearl finish! Ie anyone who is slightly darker skinned as referred to above.
So no I would not count anyone from the EU states as ethnic minority.
As some one new to acting , being an ethnic minority, has been an interesting position.
I look at some of the roles advertised as white, Caucasian( another name used to describe non ethnic minorities) and think does that role need to be for a white Caucasian person?
For instance, a fitness instructor, the advert says must be white, why?
Do non white people not train as a fitness instructors ? What message is the person, the director putting out there to the world? Of course I am assuming that the director has a message and its not the office junior who has put the advert out there and ticked the colour box!
There are many other examples I could give where the colour of the person doing the part should be irrelevant to the part. We live in a multicultural society , especially way down south, where most of the jobs seem to be advertised for ( but that's for another article!).
I think that producers, directions, casting directors and agents have a very important role to play in improving the multicultural dynamics of great Britain. To challenge the thinking of the viewer and to help merge the many varying communities around these beautiful isles.
If acting wants to put us in a box and ghettofiy us ( is there really a word like that ) then what hope do the politicians have to improve tolerance and acceptance of others from different countries , cultures and religions.
So directors, producers , casting directors and agents, think wider, think integration, think challenge the thinking. Your viewers are intelligent people, the ratings will be improved, you will be praised by politicians and society as leading the way to a multicultural society not bound by colour or creed.
You might even get more funding into the acting scene and see a reversal of the budget cuts( we can hope and must use any means available to us !)
And a huge thank you to all the directors,producers, casting directors and agents who don't think like the above and would never think about colour first and only assess the persons acting ability.
Saying all that , where does a non white female actor, slightly older than the normal age, get work.
Well with great difficulty is the answer. I cant go for white parts cause I am not.
I don't want to be pigeon holed into playing the Asian actress because I can do a lot more than that.
I think to myself ,does Jennifer Lopez or Thandi Newton only go for Latino looking parts, I think not.
My friends in the acting world say, but its a start and its good to cash in on your looks and accent.
And yes I agree get a part and get known but then leave and get parts that don't rely on your colour.
However part of me thinks also I want to challenge the thinking of the producer or director, maybe they have never met an Asian nun, or Asian female car buyer!
However my advice is go for a part that you think you can play and if there is no colour preference then that's great. However if it says white then avoid as you will be wasting people's time and that will just get them annoyed.
There are of course less parts advertised for ethnic minority actors and those that are tend to be are trying to stereotype, Asian male working in a shop or restaurant !!
That does make my blood boil, my father was an academic, don't see any of those parts advertised!
So I think we need to challenge the stereotyping and help make the playing field ( rather acting field )more equal.
I have to say though ,this argument would never exist in the US, I cant imagine George Clooney or Steven Spielberg saying they want a white actor for some role. This is a very peculiar British trait,one we should really challenge and get rid of!
Of course CCP has a role to play too, take out the colour box and let creativity improve and flow in the casting process , there might be some very interesting outcomes!
So how does one get work as an ethnic minority actor, just like any other actor.
Network, be positively persistence, work hard , and believe in yourself.
Your talent will shine through!! Good Luck.