Our Racial Justice Statement
We at Telsey + Company are responsible for the negligence in our past and the harm it has caused Black, Indigenous, and People of Color.
We have been complicit in establishing and allowing systems of white supremacy to continue: biased audition processes, limited training pipelines, flawed hiring practices, and a lack of institutional equity. We have failed to consistently create a safe and welcoming environment for our own BIPOC staff members.
When the national outcry for racial justice intensified in the Spring of 2020 as a result of the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Ahmaud Arbery, and hundreds of other Black Americans at the hands of law enforcement, Telsey + Company began engaging in conversations with BIPOC in our industry to better understand the way our actions have negatively impacted them. We are listening, and we acknowledge the deep pain and injustice BIPOC encounter as they navigate a system of white supremacy that has existed in our office and in our industry.
We had ignorantly believed our well-meaning intentions were enough. We have been part of the problem; we want to be part of the solution.
We are dedicated to transforming who we are in order to create positive and permanent change by elevating Black, Indigenous, and People of Color—people of the global majority—through our casting and within Telsey + Company.
With guidance from the Disruptive Equity Education Project, we have started ongoing Diversity, Belonging, Inclusion, and Equity training. We know this training must coexist with actionable, measurable steps toward becoming an inclusive, equitable, and actively antiracist organization. We have redefined our company’s core values and are sharing them here, along with the following initial action steps. We will hold ourselves accountable and ask our community to hold us accountable as well.
This is just the beginning of our journey to become better allies and advocates.
We approach our work as a team joining together to collaborate:
• with and amongst ourselves (the T+C staff).
• with our creative teams and clients.
• with and amongst the actors with whom we interact in our casting.
• The acknowledgement/belief that casting is an art, and we ourselves, are artists.
• We are responsible for helping other artists realize their vision.
• We care deeply about our projects, our collaborators, and each other.
• We respect each others’ differences in taste and opinion.
• We practice empathy.
• We listen with open hearts and minds.
• We understand the importance and challenges of leadership and hard work with regard to our projects.
• We hold ourselves accountable in our casting work, and in our actions and words as individuals.
• We commit to making our casting processes safe, welcoming, and comfortable.
We are constantly and endlessly striving to be an actively antiracist organization through education, communication, and most importantly, measurable action. This includes being unafraid to have uncomfortable conversations, make mistakes, learn from mistakes, and strive to amplify BIPOC, LGBTQ+, and other historically underrepresented voices as an organization and as individuals.
The following are only the first steps we are taking towards becoming a fully equitable and antiracist organization:
• We have committed to the Disruptive Equity Education Project’s ongoing Diversity, Belonging, Inclusion, Equity, and Unconscious Bias training and will work with them to create and implement Antiracism and Equity policies. We commit to an accountability evaluation process for all staff members in our office.
• We commit to having Antiracism and Equity discussions with creative teams and producers in all preliminary casting meetings and consistently throughout the entire casting process.
• We will not accept the use of racially or culturally insensitive language, inferences, or labels in our audition rooms unless it is spoken by an actor who recites dialogue from a script in the course of an audition.
• We are committed to increasing our staff BIPOC presence by embracing thorough hiring practices and creating a space of belonging that centers, nurtures, and amplifies BIPOC voices.
• We will collaborate with outside organizations and BIPOC members of our community to establish equitable opportunities and paid casting fellowships for BIPOC casting professionals. Details for these fellowships will be announced soon.
• We will strive to consistently create a safe space for actors to share their work by analyzing each step of our casting process. We will draft breakdowns with appropriate and inclusive language; we will respect the amount of time and effort it takes actors to fully prepare; and we will respect the actor’s relationship to racially and culturally sensitive material that could bring up trauma, allowing them the space to be vulnerable and the time to recover.
• We are committed to increasing access to audition opportunities for historically underrepresented actors by expanding the ways in which we seek talent. These initiatives will include but are not limited to an increase in social media searches, outreach to underrepresented communities, collaboration with HBCU training programs, and the creation of new pipelines for discovering talent.
• We will create a confidential channel through which actors can report when they feel they have not been provided a safe and inclusive environment.
• We are collaborating with advocacy organizations including the Broadway Advocacy Coalition and the Black Theatre Coalition to find ways to become stronger allies and advocates.
These are only our first steps.
Telsey + Company will continue this work to ensure that actors and staff members of all backgrounds, races, gender identities, abilities, and sexual orientations feel welcomed, supported, and respected.