CSA Senior Actors Town Hall

As part of its ongoing Commitment to Diversity and Inclusion in Casting Initiative, the Casting Society of America has begun hosting a series of panel conversations intended to shed light on, and effect change for, how actors in historically underrepresented communities are afforded access to job opportunities. Partnering with the SAG-AFTRA National Seniors Committee, CSA held a successful and much-needed town hall conversation on the inclusion of senior performers in casting at SAG-AFTRA Plaza on Aug. 23.

Aligned with SAG-AFTRA’s mission for better job opportunities and following the recent successful New York town hall, the panel of senior actors and prominent casting directors and talent representatives drew in more than 130 SAG-AFTRA and CSA attendees. Casting Director and CSA President Russell Boast led the conversation along with fellow panelists Julia Kim (casting), Tracy Lilienfield (casting), Candace Stewart (talent agent), Tim Angle (talent manager), and actors Alma Martinez, Danielle Kennedy, Keone Young and CJ Jones.

Kicking off the conversation, Lilienfield and Kim applauded examples of progress in the industry, such as more accurate representations of contemporary American seniors, which can be seen in Netflix’s hit sitcom Grace and Frankie, cast by Lilienfield herself. Still, the CDs acknowledged that more inclusive casting and the effort to shift outdated on-screen representations of seniors are works in progress, but they hope the strides that have been made will accelerate the advances to come. Angle and Stewart, agents who have senior performers on their rosters, reported on the improvements in on-screen representation. The reps also encouraged audience members not to be intimidated by technology and reminded them of the abundant free programming offered by the L.A. Local, which includes classes in self-taping.

Members Martinez, Kennedy, Young and Jones delved further into acting-centric issues faced by senior actors, examining issues such as re-entering the industry following a hiatus, entering later in life or, more commonly, the issue of senior roles being filled by younger actors in makeup. Members acknowledged that whether you have a respectable résumé of work or are entering the industry for the first time as a senior, the challenges are very real in an industry that’s reluctant to portray senior characters as diverse and three-dimensional. Jones and Young discussed the activism, which is much needed in the senior community in order to make age and maturity a driving topic and ensure these roles go to senior actors. 

“We’ve got the memory, we’ve got the goods. Help us deliver,” Kennedy said.

The town hall brought this community together for a constructive and honest conversation. Panelists encouraged attendees, whether fellow SAG-AFTRA members or CSA members, to help move the needle forward by continuing to engage in open conversations about their concerns. 

Photo: SAG-AFTRA National Seniors Committee Co-Chair Jackie Joseph, CSA President Russell Boast, SAG AFTRA members Danielle Kennedy, CJ Jones and Alma Martinez with talent manager Tim Angle, SAG-AFTRA member Keone Young and CSA casting directors Tracy Lilienfeld and Julia Kim before the CSA Senior Actors Town Hall on Aug. 23.


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