Hollywood is overwhelmingly the dominion of straight white men, whose decades in charge have fostered a culture that reflects their necessarily limited perspectives. Even today, actors of color are rarely portrayed in a non-racially stereotypical lens, and women — still! — often are reduced to their looks. The #OscarsSoWhite protest dealt a blow to Hollywood's lack of diversity, but the issue isn't just the absence of women or people of color on screen, it is the quality of the roles that are on the table.
In their efforts looking for work, actors Julie Asriyan and Jenna Ciralli, and writer Laura Bray, have come across a good deal of appalling casting calls for female characters.
"The character breakdowns on the casting call sites varied in their wrongs — discriminatory, stereotypical, sexist, ageist, racist," Asriyan told A Plus. "But all undeniably flawed and limited in the way they sought to reflect a female character."
So they decided to launch Casting Call, The Project, and invited other female actors to create a video of them reading real casting calls for women on camera:
"Comes across as average looking, but actually has potential to be pretty if she dressed differently."
"Prefer an actor who is not thin. This is a great role for a feminist."
"She loves being a woman so she probably wears a push-up bra."
Though Asriyan is careful to note that the calls don't reflect the entire acting industry, they do highlight how narrow a lens society — and by extension, Hollywood — views women through.
"[The industry's stereotypes do] not truly reflect our complexity as human beings, our individuality, our humanity. As actors, it is disheartening to be presented with such constrictive roles and story lines," Asriyan said, but she added that the growing number of complex female roles and women-led productions is encouraging. "There has certainly been an improvement. It is a movement that is happening right now, and we are a part of it. This particular project elicits #allthefeelings and that's exactly what we want. We want people to feel it, so that change can occur."