The Casting Society of America has announced its inaugural top 20 list of actors from historically underrepresented communities for 2020.
The diverse and inclusive list includes Brian Michael Smith, Colin Buckingham, David Harrell, Elizabeth Frances, Elizabeth Hinkler, E.R. Fightmaster, Glenn Stanton, Jearnest Corchado, Jesten Mariconda, JJ Hawkins, Leila Ben-Abdallah , Mel Mehrabian, Mo Zelof, Nabeel Muscatawalla, Nicole Lynn Evans, Pooya Mohseni, Rachel Crowl, Rahnuma Panthaky, Shannon Devido and Sophie Kim.
“After a stellar series of open calls and informative Town Halls — the culmination of years of work to connect casting directors with actors from underrepresented communities — we felt it was the perfect time to celebrate 20 standout performances,” said CSA co-presidents Russell Boast and Rich Mento. “Casting Society of America will continue to amplify all actors and continue to push for accurate, inclusive and diverse representation in 2021 and beyond.”
The 20 actors were chosen during a Casting Initiative Town Hall as part of the CSA’s ongoing commitment to diversity and inclusion. The town hall featured conversations with actors from historically underrepresented communities, including Performers with Disabilities (PWDS), Transgender Actors, Middle Eastern, North African, South Asian (MENASA), and Native American and Indigenous Actors (NAIA).
Throughout the past few years, open calls were held for actors from these communities, then the Equity In Entertainment committee viewed thousands of audition tapes and selected the top five actors from each community. Then each actor worked with a committee member who coached them on how to improve their audition skills and redo their taped scenes.
This comes in light of the Casting Society of America’s Equity in Entertainment committee which has held open calls encouraging conversations on the importance of reflecting historically underrepresented communities in the media. Most recently, the Equity in Entertainment committee held an initiative for Military Veterans.
In January 2021, the committee, in association with the CSA’s BIPOC Alliance, will launch its Black Actor initiative.