The Oscars Need to Recognize the Female-Dominated Field of Casting Directors Like the BAFTAs
It really is about time.
Think about your favorite film. Think about your favorite characters in that film, and the performances the actors give. Assembling a cast that’s as strong as the Avengers is a Herculean task in any film, and we have casting directors to thank for that. However, despite being key to the success of any ensemble or film, casting directors still have not been honored with their own category at the Academy Awards, and their work goes largely unrecognized.
The BAFTAs revealed last Wednesday that they were planning on adding a casting award, which makes them the first major awards ceremony to do so. Victor Jenkins, chair of the Casting Directors Guild, said, “We are thrilled at the news that BAFTA has introduced a category for casting in both their film and television Awards in 2020. The overwhelming industry support since the announcement alone shows just how important this news is to so many of us. We do what we do because we love actors, we love being part of the storytelling process, and above all else we are creative people.”
Many voiced their support on Twitter, including actor Richard E. Grant.
Finally! – I owe my career to the late, great casting director Mary Selway, who changed my life in 1986, when she cast me in ‘WITHNAIL & I’. Recognition for Casting Directors has been a long time coming. https://t.co/0LL1IO1lMu
— Richard E. Grant (@RichardEGrant) August 7, 2019
Here’s an interesting fun fact about casting directors: they’re mostly women. In a roundup of statistics of women in film done by Women and Hollywood, of the 380 casting directors credited in the top 300 films from 2016 to 2018, 83.4% were women. That’s staggeringly high compared to the top percentages of women in the director’s chair or working as a screenwriter or producer on a major film. It’s a field that needs diversifying (as most fields in Hollywood do), but the majority still stands.
There are plenty of parts that come together to make a film perfect and award-worthy. One of those parts is having a strong cast, from an intimate drama to a sprawling epic. Without casting directors, those casts might not come together as well, and the whole film would suffer as a result. Casting takes a keen eye and intuition into who will be the best for the role, and it certainly is not easy.
Casting directors can also give unknowns the chance they need to break into the business, meaning they can identify new talent and take chances on untested performers they feel will be best for the role. You likely have them to thank for your favorite stars.
Honoring casting directors is also a great way to continue to nominate more women at the Oscars. By creating a category that’s sure to be dominated by women, the Academy can make their show more inclusive and also honor a field long overlooked. It is a win-win situation, period. These directors deserve recognition, and more women deserve to be recognized by the Academy. It’s mercenary, but true.
The Oscars should follow the BAFTAs’ lead and include a casting director category, and make up for the years of excluding these creatives from awards recognition. Without casting directors, you have no cast and no film. These women deserve the chance to shine, and it’s about time they got it.
(via The Hollywood Reporter, image: screencap)
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