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Race on TV: Casting directors respond to Deadline's 'ethnic casting' article

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The cast of ABC's "Black-ish" (L-R) Marcus Scribner, Tracee Ellis Ross, Marsai Martin, Anthony Anderson, Miles Brown, Laurence Fishburne, Yara Shahidi
Craig Sjodin/ABC
The cast of ABC's "Black-ish" (L-R) Marcus Scribner, Tracee Ellis Ross, Marsai Martin, Anthony Anderson, Miles Brown, Laurence Fishburne, Yara Shahidi

Several successful new shows reflect a new level of diversity on TV. Does this represent a sea change in an industry that has for many years been criticized for its homogeneity?

“Black-ish” is just one of the shows in the current TV season that represents a new — perhaps unprecedented — level of diversity on television. “Fresh Off the Boat,” “Empire” and “Jane the Virgin” have also been praised for better reflecting the makeup of America.

But does this represent a sea change in an industry that has for many years been criticized for its homogeneity?

A story on the show-biz website Deadline.com has stirred the pot during pilot season, when networks decide which shows to pick up for next season. The story says the success of diverse shows has caused networks to mandate that as much as 50 percent of all the roles in new pilots be filled by non-white actors, including guest roles and background actors.

The story then explores whether there is such a thing as “too much diversity." The reaction to that story is heated and will surely continue.

Wednesday on The Frame, we examined one specific aspect: casting — and how much it has, or hasn’t, changed in Hollywood.

Our guests: Risa Bramon Garcia, a veteran casting director whose TV credits include “Roseanne,” “CSI: New York," and Showtime’s “Masters of Sex"; and Tracy "Twinkie" Byrd, a casting director for BET's "Being Mary Jane" and the indie film, "Fruitvale Station." 

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