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Quoted from The Philadelphia Inquirer:

Be in an M. Night movie
Director-writer-producer M. Night Shyamalan is casting for The Last Airbender, a live-action film from Paramount and Nickelodeon based on the Nickelodeon animated series, shooting here from mid-March through July. (It's set in a world where human civilization is divided into four nations: Air, Water, Earth and Fire. The film's hero, the reluctant young Aang, is the Last Airbender. Aided by a protective teenage Waterbender named Katara and her bullheaded brother, Sokka, Aang proceeds on a perilous journey to restore balance to their war-torn world. Standard stuff.)

The O.C.'s Jackson Rathbone has been named as Sokka. Casting folks are looking for extras to play soldiers, martial artists, dancers, gymnasts, athletes and families - specifically physically fit people from 18 to 65 years old. The open call will be 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at Bullies restaurant at the Wachovia Spectrum. You're asked to dress casually or in the traditional costume of your family's ethnic background. Info: lastairbendercasting@gmail.com or 215-574-7878.


We've called the number provided and this seems to be completely legit. Several people have commented suggesting that those protesting the casting decision should have a presence there, and we're inclined to agree. However, it's very important that we all conduct ourselves politely, peacefully and responsibly.

If you can make it to the casting call in person, we would love for you to
• Ask polite but firm questions of the casting people about why they chose white actors to play Asian and Inuit characters and report back here with what they say
• Ask why no formal statement has been made by Paramount Pictures or Blinding Edge Pictures (Shyamalan's production company) about the casting controversy and, again, let us know what they say
• Take photos and notes about what you see and hear and share them with us in the comments
• Peacefully and respectfully protest the casting decisions, and tell the local media that you plan to do so. If you want to organize a protest, relevant information regarding applying for permits and such can be found here.

EDIT: drmoonpants is trying to put together a list of those who plan to attend. Please reply to this comment if you think you'll be able to make it so that we can get a headcount.

You should not, under any circumstances
• Spam their voicemail or email with messages
• Harass or insult the casting people in any way or interfere with their ability to do their jobs
• Protest the casting in a manner that is not completely peaceful, polite and respectful
• Confront or disrespect anyone else who shows up to the casting call
• Behave in a manner that would cast a bad light on this movement as a whole

If you cannot make it to the casting call in person, we encourage you to send short, polite messages to the email address above (or leave equally short, polite voicemails) briefly explaining your objections to their casting decisions and asking if and when Blinding Edge Pictures plans to make a statement regarding this controversy.

Comments

(Anonymous)
Jan. 24th, 2009 07:25 am (UTC)
Hollywood
So... my 12-yr old Asian (Filipino) American son auditioned for Aang but obviously didn't get the part. See here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=54i1GvKCdYk&feature=channel_page

Since all his interests are leading him into the entertainment industry, he took a small acting and modeling workshop back last Spring. Earlier this month we took a trip out to Hollywood to meet with a talent agency for representation. We were told they couldn't represent him because it "conflicted with another client". Being new to the industry, I kindly asked what that meant and the response was "he has a similar look to a child we already represent".

Look? He was there to seek represenation for his talents. Not his Look.

Do child talent agencies have a cap on how many ethnic children they can represent? How bout Asian boys who are American that have American accents and are 12? Boo Boo Stewart and Brandon SooHoo is all Hollywood needs I guess. (I love both of them btw.) Too bad we don't see enough of them either.

I hear this is Typical Hollywood. I had no idea until all this happened. So, now I'm not sure if I want to pursue an agency for him even though he really wants to act. Dilemmas...

Since day one of the cast announcement, I've wondered... was it because he really sucked in his acting audition (even though the sides/script was a bit off? Or - was he just not what they were "looking" for: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ToZhGvF8Xtc. Again, I just can't help but wonder.

Here's the kicker: my son now thinks Aang, Katara, Sokka, and Zuko are supposed to be White since that's what has been casted. You should hear us debate... Me and my husband debating our child who auditioned for Aang about how the cast is offensive to us and should be to him. Yes, some kids don't know any better. It sucks. Luckily, we sorta got to him and he "kinda" gets it. Our fault for being white-washed 2nd/3rd generation Filipino's I guess. We still watch Avatar every night. But the proposed current main cast still hurts.

This movement, the blogs, the journals, the Facebooks, youtubers... ALL Amazing. Everyday I search for them and read them. If anyone can understand the meaning behind it all - we are it. It's not just about The Last Airbender Movie. It's about the "21"s, Dragonball Evol's, Earthsea's, Kung-Fu's - all of it.

We need to BE THE CHANGE. If we don't cry out loud - we won't be heard and nothing will change. That's why nothing has changed.

Good luck to all of you going out to protest. Don't let anyone tell you it won't make a difference. Because it already has...
aang_aint_white
Jan. 24th, 2009 07:31 am (UTC)
Re: Hollywood
Thank you so much for sharing all of this with us. We're going to do everything we can to try and change things -- it's awful that your son had to go through all of this, but your story helps remind us why we're doing this and why it's absolutely worth it.
__planitbremix
Jan. 24th, 2009 03:13 pm (UTC)
Re: Hollywood
I just wanted to say, I think your son would make a terrific Aang=)
caterfree10
Jan. 24th, 2009 07:08 pm (UTC)
Re: Hollywood
Ma'am, it is a very sad state in Hollywood and I still say keep on trying! We're in an ever changing world and the more you try, the closer your son will get to his goal! I whole-heartedly believe in this. This is a country that just elected its first black President and I will believe that anyone can reach their goals regardless of race or ethnicity.

Heh, and now I'm off to write an essay that can hopefully get some national attention considering where I plan on sending it.
opal_skies
Jan. 25th, 2009 03:02 am (UTC)
Re: Hollywood
If I may ask, where are you sending your essay? :)
caterfree10
Jan. 25th, 2009 03:28 am (UTC)
Re: Hollywood
I'll be sending it to "This I Believe." I'm hoping I can write eloquently enough to get it on NPR! :3
opal_skies
Jan. 25th, 2009 03:30 am (UTC)
Re: Hollywood
Ah, that would be so wonderful! I've often thought about NPR with this...
caterfree10
Jan. 25th, 2009 03:56 am (UTC)
Re: Hollywood
Hell, they may even say something about it without an essay! Problem is, I have no idea how to go about contacting them. And I just found out about "This I Believe" last week. ^^;
opal_skies
Jan. 25th, 2009 05:22 am (UTC)
Re: Hollywood
http://www.npr.org/contact/
:) I think that's the best way, but I've never tried to contact NPR before, so I'm not sure.
caterfree10
Jan. 25th, 2009 06:01 am (UTC)
Re: Hollywood
I'll have to try that then! Any way to spread the word, am I right? :3
opal_skies
Jan. 25th, 2009 06:36 am (UTC)
Re: Hollywood
Exactly! ;D
caterfree10
Jan. 25th, 2009 03:42 pm (UTC)
Re: Hollywood
And all done! ^_~ Couldn't write too much (they suggested a paragraph and under 200 words o_e), but I did leave them the addy for here, so hopefully we can get even more coverage! ^^-
opal_skies
Jan. 25th, 2009 07:46 pm (UTC)
Re: Hollywood
w00t!
star_bolt08
Jan. 24th, 2009 07:36 pm (UTC)
Re: Hollywood
I saw the your son's audition videos (someone put a link to them on the Facebook group...and I think you might have as well), and for the life of me, I can't understand why they didn't pick him. He was amazing! He would've made an great Aang. I know nothing about martial arts, or the type of martial arts skill that the boy they did pick has (I think playing Aang would require more than just being a "karate star"), but he couldn't have been that much better than your son was. And you know, I kind of doubt that Noah Ringer has a lot of acting skill either, if any. The way I see it, they would have had to give the kid they cast as Aang an acting coach anyway. After all they did promise that they'd be picking unknowns, and since the other cast members aren't, and they had to at least go with one unknown. And an unknown, regardless of acting skill (or lack thereof), would've needed some form of professional instruction. But anyway, those are just some of my thoughts. I'm sorry that this happened to your son, but hopefully, in the future, studios will at least think twice about their casting decisions and at least make some kind of effort to better represent minority actors in film.
nejis_hime
Jan. 25th, 2009 11:55 pm (UTC)
Re: Hollywood
I watched your son's video, he was great! The fact that he's the same age as Aang is an awesome bonus! ^_^

In your post, when you mentioned that your son now thinks that the characters we've all grown to love are white, I almost cried. That just shows the impact things such as this have on kids! It's also what I was afraid of when I found out about the casting.

There are very, very few American animated shows (and rocking awesome ones at that) for kids in which the hero, or heroes, is Asian. The fact that the Avatar is one of those shows is great for kids of Asian heritage, all kids also, to look up to. There were probably kids who watched the Avatar faithfully, loved the show, and were excited to see this amazing kid do these amazing things, and he was (appears to be, anyway) Asian, just like them! Race is one of the first things people relate themselves to in others, so for these kids, they could see that they, too, could do amazing things (maybe not element bending) like Aang.

And now that Aang and the others have been whitewashed, what will these kids think now? When they go to see TLA in the movies, instead of someone who looks similar to them, they'll see another white person on the big screen (no offense to be made). Then they might think that because they're Asian, they aren't good enough. Because Asian actors aren't good enough to play Aang & Co., they aren't good enough to live up to their full potential and do what they dream of doing.

And that's what I hate the most about the casting.

BTW, I'm black, not Asian in any way. I'm not going to go off into a rant about black people's oppression, I'm only 16 and I'm not too experienced in that area. I just wanted to speak out about what I thought of when I read the casting decisions and read your post.
jezz_valentine
Jan. 29th, 2009 02:42 am (UTC)
Re: Hollywood
I watch the videos of your son. I think he would have been awesome as Aang. He has real potential. And those sides, they were completely one-sided towards the character of Aang.

Anyway, I want to thank you for sharing this with us. I feel that this movie is, whether intentionally or unintentionally, going to give many ethnic children negative images of themselves. Apparently, it has already started to begin at the auditions. Hopefully, we will be able to change something, even if it is only getting the word out.

So you know, your post is making it around to many other areas on the internet. It's important to see someone's opinion and experience who came into direct contact with the casting. Your link showed up on a thread I made on IMDB about the effect this may have on children. Check it out if you would like: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0938283/board/nest/128828818?p=1

Good luck to your son. He is sure to fall amongst the stars.

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