Hollywood ‘casting couch’ often lends self to racial stereotypes
Black actresses address issue
Gregg Reese OW Contributor | 11/21/2017, midnight
“Candy” (not her real name) dreamed of becoming a singer, and proved to be talented enough to gain acceptance at a noted institute of the performing arts after high school. Completing her education, she set forth to establish her career in an industry much less than hospitable to the aspiring songstress. Looking back, she recalls her initial forays were, at best, not taken seriously and worse, taken in under the false flag of hospitality before the veil of warmth and generosity dropped to reveal ulterior motives.
She remembers the pain and feelings of betrayal that engulfed her when she realized these “gatekeepers merely saw her as “…young and easy to take advantage of.”
Her love of music prompted her to shelve her performing hopes and she secured employment on the marketing and promotional end. Still, the ugly reality of showbiz proved to be ever present among the minions supporting those at the pinnacle of glitz and glamour.
“…deal with it or get out!”
Her 13-year career has included tenure both in mainstream music and motion picture corporations, and the highly profitable “niche” market of hip-hop and rap. As might be expected, the interplay on the corporate level operates under the thin veneer of propriety, where sexism and harassment do exist in this grown up “Boys Club,” albeit on a “hush hush” level. So a meeting to pitch a movie or other major project will be conducted under the strict protocol of professional conduct, but outside of the conference room, the repetitive litany of carnal manipulation, inappropriate language and outright proposition is pursued without abandon.
Business in the realm of rap reflects the misogyny and sexism prevalent in the lyrics of songs given airplay at any given time. In keeping with this blatant sexism, professional conduct in the work place is an accepted regiment of being
“…groped and pressured to do things.”
The “game” is upped at concerts, V.I.P. events, release parties, or any functions where alcohol flows freely. As Candy tells it, the expectation of groping and other forms of inappropriateness is understood prior to attendance at these work related “soirées.”
“I’ve always got my guard up,” she says of her emotional and mental preparation for these sessions of and lascivious revelry. As expected, a clique of solidarity cropped up among women in the industry as a buttress to the harassment they endured in earning their living. Veterans who chose to “mentor” her often did so in a provocative manner.
A senior recording executive (a White woman) with years of seniority admonished her to “…lead with your masculinity,” as a means of survival. Later, she expressed this tactic a little more bluntly.
“…be a Bitch!”
Candy initially consented to be interviewed under her own name, but during the course of a phone conversation, she broke down with the weight of unpleasant memories.
In an email received by this writer she asked that she, too, be included under an alias or pseudonym.
“Please don’t use my name. I’m scared I’m going to get blacklisted,” she pleaded.