50:50 gender casting campaign gets union backing

Actresses wear T-shirts emblazoned with the Equal Representation for Actresses campaign logo. Photo: Equal Representation for Actresses

A campaign for actresses to get more stage and screen roles has received official backing from Equity.

The actor’s union confirmed it was backing the Equal Representation for Actresses movement, which is calling for a 50:50 split of male and female roles across television and theatre by 2018.

Since the campaign’s genesis earlier this year, the BBC has committed to gender-equal casting across all of its on-air and on-screen roles by 2020.

Joining the ERA campaign, Equity assistant general secretary Martin Brown claimed it marked another step in the union’s long fight for equality between male and female actors.

He told The Stage: “Equity has a long history of campaigning for the equal treatment of men and women in the entertainment industry. So it was natural for the council to welcome the launch of the ERA campaign and to put Equity’s name to it.”

ERA launched in January with support from actors including Denise Gough, who said the issue was “everyone’s problem”.

Describing the campaign, an ERA spokeswoman said culture “holds a mirror up to society” and claimed the lack of female roles “distorts that image and the message it sends out has a detrimental effect on all of us”.

She added: “We have a responsibility to future generations to repair that imbalance, which is due in part to unmonitored industry practices that have run unchecked for decades and do not stand up to scrutiny in 2016,” she added.

In February, National Theatre director Rufus Norris announced the venue would ensure it employs a 50:50 balance of male and female directors and writers by 2021- 50:50 gender casting campaign gets union backing, by David Hutchison, The Stage, May 11, 2016