Many industries grapple with fully representing diversity in their hiring choices, and the theater is no exception. The Asian American Performers Action Coalition (AAPAC) recently released their annual “Ethnic Representation on New York City Stages” report, which is the only publicly available report of its kind. The document details the ethnic distribution of actors hired this past theater season on Broadway and at the top 16 not-for-profit theater companies in New York City.
According to AAPAC’s research, in the 2011-2012 season, African-American actors were cast in 16 percent, Hispanic American/Latino actors in 3 percent, and Asian-American actors in 3 percent of all roles. Additionally, Arab American, Middle Eastern and Native American performers accounted for only 1 percent of those on stage. Overall, Caucasian actors comprised 77 percent of all roles.
Interestingly, not-for-profit theaters hired fewer minorities than Broadway. In all, minorities represent roughly a quarter of all roles on Broadway in the past two years. Conversely, a few years ago the situation was the reverse, with the not-for-profit sector setting a high water mark with 27 percent of minority hires during the 2008-2009 season. Asian-American actors in particular are experiencing their lowest point in terms of not-for-profit hiring, as they secured only 2 percent of roles this past season.
For a list of the companies with the most and least diversity, or to read the full report, visit www.aapacnyc.org.