A luxury car maker apologized April 18 for a casting document calling for a “not too dark” African American to appear in its 2012 Super Bowl commercial alongside celebrities Jay Leno and Jerry Seinfeld.
“We apologize to anyone offended by the language on the casting sheet used in the selection of actors for one of our commercials. We sought to cast an African-American in a prominent role in the commercial, and we made our selection based on the fact that he was the most talented actor. The casting sheet was only now brought to our attention,” Acura said in a statement issued April 18.
“We are taking appropriate measures to ensure that such language is not used again in association with any work performed on behalf of our brand."
The statement was an effort to defuse the controversy that surfaced when a document detailing the casting call for an ad that showcased the company's new NSX model was leaked to TMZ.
For the role of the African American car dealer, directors wanted the actor to be, "nice looking, friendly [and] not too dark."
The gossip site said it received the casting sheet from a Black actor who didn't make the cut.
An unnamed source associated with the commercial later told the site that they made the "not too dark" requirement because lighting and special effects would be difficult, otherwise.
But the leaked document sheds light on the much-talked about, but rarely documented belief that skin tone plays a major role in the casting of Black actors.
In Hollywood, longtime casting manager Roger Neal he was surprised the description was written on a casting document.
"I've never seen it in writing before," Neal said. "No one has been bold enough to put it in writing."
Minority discrimination and exclusion has always been a big issue in advertising.
In 2011, the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports at the University of Central Florida released a report that analyzed the amount of minorities in Super Bowl ads that year. The report found that of 66 spots that were broadcasted, just two had African-Americans in leading roles.
The report also pointed out the lack of diversity behind the camera. Of the 58 ads it analyzed, all but four creative directors were White.
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