Carmaker Acura issued an apology Wednesday for a casting sheet published on TMZ that requested an African-American actor who was “not too dark” for a Super Bowl commercial.
The part, which lasts roughly seven seconds in the ad, is that of an African-American car dealer who informs Jerry Seinfeld that the first Acura NSX was already sold.
The “role details” line of the casting call reads: “Nice looking, friendly. Not too dark. Will work with MAJOR COMEDIAN.”
Acura issued the following apology:
We apologize to anyone offended by the language on the casting sheet used in the selection of actors for one of our commercials.
We sought to cast an African-American in a prominent role in the commercial, and we made our selection based on the fact that he was the most talented actor.
The casting sheet was only now brought to our attention. We are taking appropriate measures to ensure that such language is not used again in association with any work performed on behalf of our brand.
Acura spokesman Gary Robinson told CNN that creative directions did not come from the car company and would have come from the casting agency, Cathi Carlton Casting. The agency did not comment and deferred to the Acura apology.
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TMZ apparently received the document from “an African-American actor who didn’t fit the profile and who’s pissed.”
Understandable. The controversial casting document gives tangible credence to a notion long thought to be practiced in Hollywood and media casting.
Just last year, the institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport at the University of Central Florida analyzed Super Bowl ads from 2011, finding that in the 66 spots aired, only eight featured a non-white actor. The report also shares numbers on the lack of diversity on set: out of the 58 ads on which it gathered information, only four had non-white creative directors. Such a lack of diversity behind the scenes may explain shocking ads like Nivea’s “Re-civilize Yourself”, that caught heat last summer for featuring a preppy black man throwing away the head of a bearded African American with an afro — the head of his “old self.”
Hollywood manager Roger Neal told CNN that the casting sheet “pulls back the curtain” on the casting practice. In the past, agents have told him actors were too dark or “not black enough.”
He pointed out that it was most likely an inexperienced casting assistant who wrote the “not too dark” description.