17 July 2020
In a campaign led by Equity member Emmanuel Kojo, Equity will accelerate its work on fighting racist reviews of members’ work with a coordinated focus on the introduction of ethical standards for critics and reviewers.
This is the latest initiative in the union’s long-standing work in addressing institutional racism across the entertainment industry and Equity’s unequivocal stance on racist reviews has been clearly established by Equity President Maureen Beattie.
She said: "You can argue all you like about a simple lack of imagination. It’s true that watching and listening to drama in theatre, or on film or television or radio, requires a leap of faith: the famous ‘suspension of disbelief’. But this is much more serious than a lack of imagination. In my view this is racism – pure and simple. Sometimes unconscious, but sometimes not." (Click here for full article).
The Equity campaign is being led by Emmanuel Kojo, an actor who has been subject to racist reviewing of his work, he said:
"I have yet to come across a review that mentions the colour of a white actors skin, so is that then to say that white is the default and everything else is a cause for constant mention and discussion and most times without interrogating the racism? If an actor of colour plays a role that's traditionally played by a white actor, the colour of their skin most of the time becomes the centre of the review, rather than their portrayal of a character. That is exhausting. We have to remember we create make believe, we create art and that art should reflect the world we're living in."
As a feature of this work we welcome members sharing their personal experience of having a racist review of their work. This will help provide an evidence-base of the degree and extent of the problem. Please email Ian Manborde (Equality & Diversity Organiser) firstname.lastname@example.org
We will also be organising a Zoom meeting where Emmanuel will outline the work undertaken to-date to address racist reviews, and the proposed programme of work for the campaign. The Zoom event is organised for Monday 7th September at 6pm. You will be able to register for this event here: https://www.equity.org.uk/at-work/equity-zooms-in-on/