British Asian actress says casting director called her ‘exotic talent’

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A British actress claims a casting director referred to her ‘exotic talent’ and told her ‘I don’t understand the English that comes out of your mouth’ when they met on a Bafta diversity program.

India Eva Rae, who appeared as Candice in the Channel 4 series On The Edge, was one of 21 young actors selected for the Bafta Elevate initiative in 2019.

The Bafta website says the scheme helps talent from underrepresented groups advance their careers, while addressing ‘the issue of diversity in our industry as a whole’.

But Ms. Rae, who was homeless when she landed her breakout role in 2019, claims Elevate was just a “ PR exercise ” set up to “ clean up ” Bafta’s image after backlash over a lack of nominee diversity in 2017.

The hashtag #BaftasSoWhite was popular on Twitter after it was revealed that all nominees in the Best Actor and Best Actress categories for that year were white.

India Eva Rae, who appeared as Candice in the Channel 4 series On The Edge, was one of 21 young actors selected for the Bafta Elevate program in 2019

India Eva Rae, who appeared as Candice in the Channel 4 series On The Edge, was one of 21 young actors selected for the Bafta Elevate program in 2019

The actress, in her twenties, told me BBC she met a casting director through the Elevate schedule, who made racist comments calling her an “exotic talent.”

She said the woman told her: ‘The advice I have is more about understanding what you have to meet when you go to these rooms as an exotic main talent with our British talent.

“I’ve been listening to you, my love … I don’t understand the English that comes out of your mouth.”

The actress added that she is ‘proud’ of her ethnicity and ‘comes from a background of poverty’. She said, “I’m really proud that you can be homeless and that someone like Channel 4 and the BBC can recognize your talent.”

Ms. Rae, who spent her childhood in and out of care, claims she turned to an Elevate mentor for support after the alleged comments.

She claims she was told she would ‘never work again’ if she reported the incident.

Bafta told the BBC it had received no complaints on either claim, adding that it would have taken the allegations ‘extremely seriously’ had they been reported.

In a statement, it added, “We know firsthand from a lot of people who have been part of the initiative that they have really benefited from it, and for some it has really changed their careers.”

Mrs. Rae was selected for the program after her performance in Adulting (above), one of three short films in the anthology On the Edge

Mrs. Rae was selected for the program after her performance in Adulting (above), one of three short films in the anthology On the Edge

Mrs. Rae was selected for the program after her performance in Adulting (above), one of three short films in the anthology On the Edge

Amanda Berry, Bafta's Chief Executive, added that they knew Ms. Rae had a 'negative experience' with a casting director

Amanda Berry, Bafta's Chief Executive, added that they knew Ms. Rae had a 'negative experience' with a casting director

Amanda Berry, Bafta’s Chief Executive, added that they knew Ms. Rae had a ‘negative experience’ with a casting director

Amanda Berry, Bafta’s Chief Executive, said they were “ made aware that Ms. Rae had a negative experience with a casting director as [she] mentioned it in passing during a session with another actor. ‘

However, she was “unaware” that the incident took place during the Elevate scheme.

According to the Bafta website, Elevate attendees will receive “a custom 12-month support program, including networking opportunities, introductions, custom panel discussions, masterclasses and professional development workshops.”

Mrs. Rae was selected for the program after her performance in Adulting, one of three short films in the anthology On the Edge.

The film focused on the blossoming relationship between a young neurodiverse woman, played by Mrs. Rae, and a young man who had lost their way in life.

The actress claimed that when she tried to voice her concerns about the Elevate initiative with Tim Hunter, Bafta’s Head of New Talent, she was told her place in the plan could be compromised.

However, those at the British Academy Film Awards say that Ms. Rae misunderstood Mr. Hunter. They said that if a formal complaint is made, participation can be interrupted to ensure that the complainant is adequately supported.

In a statement, Bafta told MailOnline: “ Founded in 2017, Bafta Elevate has supported more than 50 talented individuals from underrepresented groups to develop their careers and tackle the problem of diversity in our industries as a whole.

#BaftasSoWhite fight over lack of diversity in lead actor nominations

Bafta has been criticized for its lack of diversity for years, most recently in 2020 when #BAFTAsSoWhite was trending again on Twitter after announcing all-white acting nominations.

Ms. Berry admitted that she was ‘very disappointed’ to be shortlisted for the 73rd British Academy Film Awards after not a single colored actor was nominated in the main acting categories.

The lack of diversity was criticized on social media after it was revealed that Margot Robbie was nominated twice in the supporting actor category for appearances in Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood and Bombshell.

Critics were outraged. Lupita Nyong’o was not nominated for her role in Us.

The 2020 shortlist also saw Jennifer Lopez, 51, who is of Puerto Rican descent, miss a nomination for her critically acclaimed role in Hustlers.

Bafta had previously been criticized for a lack of diversity in the 2017 nominations after which the Elevate program launched.

There was especially anger over the decision not to nominate actor Denzel Washington for Best Actor for his role in the critically acclaimed film Fences.

Instead, all of the Best Actor nominees were White: Jake Gyllenhaal, Andrew Garfield, Casey Affleck, Viggo Mortensen, and Ryan Gosling.

The same was true for Best Actress, where Amy Adams, Emily Blunt, Emma Stone, Meryl Streep and Natalie Portman were in the running, but Viola Davis, who previously won a Golden Globe, missed.

Campaigners had come to the event with signs a year earlier, calling the film industry “ masculine, pale and musty. ”

‘We know firsthand from a lot of people who have been part of the initiative that they have really benefited from it, and for some it has really changed their careers.

In one isolated incident, an Elevate attendee raised some concerns about comments made against her.

“BAFTA condemns bullying, harassment, racism and discrimination of any kind and we take allegations of this nature incredibly seriously and will urgently investigate them.

“We are committed to ensuring that our programs are as inclusive and accessible as possible to all who participate, whatever their specific support needs, and who have responded to and are willing to respond to participants’ requests in this area.”

Mrs. Rae spent her childhood in care, and in her teens she was homeless and survived with the support of food banks.

“ I had no connections on television or in the arts and was regularly told by agents that ‘the roles just aren’t there’ for girls like me, ” she said earlier.

She made her theater debut in 2019, starring Ageless at the Lyric Theater in Hammersmith.

The actress appeared on the Channel 4 sitcom Maxxx last year, written and directed by OT Fagbenle – who recently appeared in The Handmaid’s Tale and Black Widow.

Her breakthrough came in 2019 when she got the role of Candice in Adulting.

“Channel 4 and BlackLight Television were incredibly nourishing and supportive throughout the process,” she said earlier.

It never mattered that all I could bring to the table was raw talent and a passion to tell the story.

“They made me spread my wings as an actress and sink my teeth into a complex, beautiful, three-dimensional character.”

Bafta has been criticized for its lack of diversity for years, most recently in 2020 when #BAFTAsSoWhite was trending again on Twitter after announcing all-white acting nominations.

Ms. Berry admitted that she was ‘very disappointed’ to be shortlisted for the 73rd British Academy Film Awards after not a single colored actor was nominated in the main acting categories.

The lack of diversity was criticized on social media after it was revealed that Margot Robbie was nominated twice in the supporting actor category for appearances in Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood and Bombshell.

Critics were outraged. Lupita Nyong’o was not nominated for her role in Us.

The 2020 shortlist also saw Jennifer Lopez, 51, who is of Puerto Rican descent, miss a nomination for her critically acclaimed role in Hustlers.

Bafta had previously been criticized for a lack of diversity in the 2017 nominations after which the Elevate program launched.

There was especially anger over the decision not to nominate actor Denzel Washington for Best Actor for his role in the critically acclaimed film Fences.

Instead, all of the Best Actor nominees were White: Jake Gyllenhaal, Andrew Garfield, Casey Affleck, Viggo Mortensen, and Ryan Gosling.

The same was true for Best Actress, where Amy Adams, Emily Blunt, Emma Stone, Meryl Streep and Natalie Portman were in the running, but Viola Davis, who previously won a Golden Globe, missed.

Campaigners had come to the event with signs a year earlier, calling the film industry “ masculine, pale and musty. ”

Earlier this month, the Baftas unveiled a very diverse nomination list for 2021 – with 16 of the 24 acting nominees coming from minority ethnic groups.