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Casting Society of America announces international open call for trans actors

Alexandra Billings, from left, Laverne Cox, Shadi Petosky and Jill Soloway at the Television Critics Assn press tour. (Chris Pizzello / Invision/Associated Press)
Alexandra Billings, from left, Laverne Cox, Shadi Petosky and Jill Soloway at the Television Critics Assn press tour. (Chris Pizzello / Invision/Associated Press)

In a first of its kind move, the Casting Society of America announced Thursday an international casting call for transgender actors. To take place Oct. 22, the initiative aims to provide greater talent to ensure more inclusive films and television. 

"The reasoning a non diverse 'star' gets to play a diverse role is because there weren't enough talented, diverse options is an industry myth," said Russell Boast, the society's vice president, in a statement. "We're going to do something about that." 

The open call is part of the CSA’s inclusion commitment within the entertainment industry "to challenge unconscious bias, empower casting directors to lead the inclusion conversation, and discover, educate, and promote the next generation of extraordinary talent within a wide range of diverse communities," a statement said. 

The decision, in which over 30 society members around the world will open their offices to union and nonunion actors, comes after a landmark year in which the trans community has verbalized discontent in the lack of trans representation in film and on television. Much of the criticism has been of cisgender men playing transgender women, as seen with Jeffrey Tambor in "Transparent" and Eddie Redmayne in "The Danish Girl," among others. 

“Trans people have worked hard to hone their craft, but rarely get the chance to be seen since so few are represented,” said Ann Thomas, founder of Transgender Talent, a listing service for trans performers and artists. “Thank you for giving us this opportunity, CSA.”

Auditions will take place in Chicago; Los Angeles; New York; Portland, Ore.; Toronto; Montreal; and London, and on the following Monday in Barcelona, Spain. 

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