New Stephen King CBS All Access series The Stand is facing calls for a boycott after casting hearing actor Henry Zaga to play Deaf character Nick Andros.
A new statement signed by over 70 individuals, including Antoinette Abbamonte (Curb Your Enthusiasm), James Caverly (Chicago Med) and Dickie Hearts (Tales of the City), has called the casting "not acceptable".
"At the time of diversity and inclusion, this cycle of misrepresentation and unequal or non-existent employment opportunities for Deaf professionals in the entertainment industry, both in front of and behind the camera, must end," it says. "This has been happening for decades; enough is enough!"
It also claims that "not one Deaf professional actor was called in to audition for the role" and that "the decision was made without respect to and for Deaf professionals, union and non-union alike.
"There was no acknowledgement given to the psyche of a Deaf character; being Deaf is more than just not hearing."
Robert Rossi, who represents Hearts and many other Deaf actors, has supported the auditions claim, telling The Hollywood Reporter: "I was not notified or contacted or aware of the casting of this project.
"Usually SAG diversity office reaches out directly to me and the diversity casting department at networks. Nobody reached out. It was already a done deal and here is the problem. Multiple deaf/native signers could have authentically portrayed this role."
Digital Spy has reached out to CBS for comment.
The original statement continues: "We will not endorse, watch, or support your miniseries on CBS All Access. We will share our displeasure of the casting decision and airing of the miniseries on CBS All Access with our Deaf community, signing community, friends, and family of Deaf individuals; together we make up 466 million worldwide.
"It is time for industry professionals to create opportunities for Deaf talent to work on the set, in front of, and behind the camera, in the writing rooms, sit on creative teams when there is a Deaf character involved in the storyline. Our voice is a sign of the times."
As a Black Deaf filmmaker/TV Creator, advocate of diversity & inclusion, acting instructor, & creator/owner of #Deaftalent®️ campaign, I believe in change. It shouldn’t be that difficult to cast the right person for the role.#StandAgainstTheStand #TheStand #RepresentationMatter pic.twitter.com/WBpomfxpmz
— Jade Bryan - TV Writer & HBIC of #DeafTalent® (@DeafShowRunner) December 17, 2020
Alongside the boycott, signatories and supporters are sharing the hashtag #StandAgainstTheStand on social media, while THR has claimed that CBS is now meeting with members of the Deaf artists' community that produced the statement.
This is not the first time that The Stand has faced criticism over Andros' casting, with Deaf actor Nyle DiMarco tweeting in August 2019: "Hollywood takes pride in diversity to ensure representation and authenticity.., BUT CONTINUES TO EXCLUDE people with disabilities."
The Stand premiered on Thursday, December 17 on CBS All Access.
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