CAA has dropped a pair of female BIPOC entrepreneurs who’ve gained attention in recent years for holding “anti-racist” dinner parties for an affluent white women audience, according to one of the founders who says they offended their agent with their vocal support for Palestine following Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre and Israel’s subsequent invasion of Gaza.
On Nov. 13 Saira Rao told her followers on X, the social platform formerly known as Twitter, that she and her business partner Regina Jackson were now without representation due to “our words denouncing genocide. This is McCarthyism on steroids and ethnic cleansing. We are disgusted but not shocked. #FreePalestine.”
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CAA’s New York-based Ally Shuster had been their agent. The Century City-based major agency did not return a request for comment. Rao and Jackson’s speaking and book agents also didn’t respond to requests for comment.
Their organization, Race2Dinner, bills itself as hosting small dinners in which, for a fee, white women can participate “in very direct, exceedingly difficult conversations” with them “around white supremacy, racism and xenophobia.” Interest in their business, which was launched in 2019, spiked after the murder of George Floyd.
The pair’s endeavor has led to a book, White Women, detailing how “your desire to be perfect and to avoid conflict at all costs are characteristics of white supremacy culture,” which was blurbed by Chelsea Handler and Anna Paquin (“essential if you are dedicated to liberation for all”). It also prompted a documentary, Deconstructing Karen.
Rao and Jackson, who didn’t respond to a request for further comment, have been covered widely in the media, appearing everywhere from Dr. Phil to The Problem with Jon Stewart. Editors had a field day. The London Sunday Times: “Ladies, Your $5,000 ‘Racism Supper’ is Ready — Don’t Choke on the Guilt. New York Magazine: ‘Guilty Parties: Two Entrepreneurs Have Built a Business Dredging up White Women’s Shame.”
Rao has been posting about the Israel-Hamas conflict on her social media accounts, as well as reposting messages, including by the left-wing American Jewish organization IfNotNow, which describes Israel’s treatment of Palestinians as an “apartheid system,” as well as a speech by Palestinian congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, who was recently censured by the U.S. House for her own comments since Oct. 7. On Nov. 11, she posted on Instagram: “Call me a terrorist. Call me antisemitic. Call me angry, divisive, militant. Call me whatever you want. I am not committing genocide. You are. I am not condoning genocide. You are.”
CAA previously became enmeshed in Israel-Hamas politics when Maha Dakhil, its co-chief of the motion pictures department, had to step down from her leadership role in the division after she came under scrutiny for an Instagram repost that referenced “genocide.” She later deleted it and apologized, although her client Aaron Sorkin soon left the agency, returning to WME. “Maha isn’t an antisemite, she’s just wrong,” he said.
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