2020 was a remarkably memorable year in which paradigms were shifted and the way we work and live fundamentally changed. From the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic to an urgent call for increased diversity and inclusion across industries in order to help combat systemic racism in the United States, there is a lot to reflect on. As 2020 comes to a close, we want to highlight some of the positive achievements and progress made in casting in response to the challenges and much-needed calls to action that transpired this year.
The Casting Society of America and the CSA BIPOC Alliance made a commitment to equality in the entertainment industry through their Closer to Equity initiative, a series of panel discussions to explore diversity, equity and inclusion in the casting process. The first town hall was held on October 15 and was open to all casting professionals, including CSA members and non-members. The virtual town hall was moderated by Dr. Darnisa Amante-Jackson, an educational and racial equity strategist for Deep (Disruptive Equity Education Project), while the panel included a wide range of casting professionals from casting directors to casting associates.
The CSA also hosted two online events as part of the CSA’s Commitment to Equity in Entertainment in Casting Initiative. The first event, Business of the Business, was an acting training event, hosted virtually on October 24, specifically for veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces. This event also prepared talent for the following day’s online open call, hosted by the CSA on October 25. Both initiatives continue to push the industry towards a more inclusive and equitable future.
The Casting Guild of Australia joined forces with Casting Networks to create the CGA Self Tape Library, an initiative designed to engage and support actors through the COVID-19 pandemic. The initiative was a resounding success, and over 3,000 self tapes were received from represented and unrepresented talent across Australia and New Zealand. The self tapes were divided into categories, allowing ease of viewing for the CGA members during this challenging year. As David Newman of McSweeney Newman Casting and Casting Guild of Australia President shared with Casting Networks back in August, “The end result has already proven itself to be a unique and valuable resource as production restarts. CGA members are loving it.”
The United Kingdom made huge strides in casting, including Shayna Markowitz winning the first-ever BAFTA for Casting at the 73rd annual Awards for her work on the film “Joker.” This was the first time in over 20 years that the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) added a new category to their list of awards. BAFTA joins the ranks of awards shows recognizing casting directors, including the British Independent Film Awards (BIFA) and the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts Awards (AACTA), which first introduced casting categories in 2017 and 2018, respectively.
Additionally, the Casting Directors Association held its annual Casting Director Awards ceremony virtually for the first time ever, in September. The event was a massive success and was streamed live via their YouTube channel. As a proud sponsor of the event since 2017, Casting Networks was thrilled to be involved with the event and congratulate all the nominees and winners for their amazing work, across the globe.
This year has been one of the most difficult in recent history – with lasting impact around the world – and we are encouraged to see our casting community taking measurable actions to ensure that all members of the entertainment industry are supported and heard. Thank you to all of the industry professionals who have made a positive impact in 2020, and we look forward to watching the industry grow in the years ahead.