Acura Faces Controversy for Casting Call for ‘Not Too Dark’ Black Actors in Ad

Casting call sheet requested Black actors to appear in commercial with Jerry Sienfeld---as long as they were "not too dark"

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Scene from Acura commercial

Soooo, TMZ obtained a casting sheet for the Acura Super Bowl commercial with Jerry Seinfeld requesting that the actor playing the African-American car dealer in the scene be “nice looking, friendly, not too dark.” (Although they did clarify that they’d would accept a “MAJOR COMEDIAN.”)

According to Huffington Post, “someone connected to the ad’s casting told TMZ that the skin tone restriction was to avoid problems with lighting and special effects.”

Today, Acura issued a statement: “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. 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.”

It should be noted that TMZ said they obtained the document from a “pissed” actor who didn’t get the part because he didn’t “fit the profile.” But still…

What do you think: Case of insensitive, foul play on the part of the Acura team or a simple misstep in word play?

  • Jason

    This doesn’t surprise me at all, especially in advertising. In my 11 years as a commercials director in the United Kingdom, I’ve never heard of a casting call like this. This is racism full stop. Using the excuse of lighting difficuties is not very clever, If they can’t light a dark face then I’d suggest they switch production companies!!! It’s the 21st century certain ad agencies really need to get a grip.

  • John

    So silly. So if they wanted a 6’1″ actor is that now “heightism”? If they wanted a beautiful actress, is that “uglyism”. They wanted to be specific to sell something. THey wanted to have their role filled the way they wanted it. What if the “white” actor showed up as an Albino and you could not see him in the ad. Such nonsense.

    • Angelica

      The issue is the wording used. If the call sheet asked to cast a fair skinned person, that’d be fine. When a negative connotation comes on a widely spread call sheet, it reads insensitive to the very specific group of actors they are looking to cast.

  • Will

    It’s not Acura’s fault, it’s a problem in America even in the Black community;it seems that the lighter you are the more likely you are to get the part.Have you seen our black movies lately? So let’s put racism where it belongs and not attach it to everthing that has color, because soon it will be just like crying wolf. NO ONE WILL LISTEN!

    • Cowards Drive

      No. It IS actually “Acura’s” fault Will, why are they thinking they can get off selling these weapons of mass destruction IN THE FIRST PLACE TELL ME TRUE!

  • LJay

    I am a brown skinned black female, and once auditioned for an on-air position at MTV – the exec producer kept telling the makeup artist to make sure I was as light as possible because of the “lighting” in the studio. Anyone in production knows that has nothing to do with it – sadly people are still looking for non-black looking black people. It’s stories like these that need to get out and the perpetrators criticized, in order to “help” change thinking.

  • FoulMouth

    Who cares. You know what. If Acura wants a white guy who “isn’t too red”, there isn’t gonna be a controversy over it. You know why? Because the white man has better things to do that piss, moan and groan and act thin skin in an attempt to find a new way to rob somebody. Casting calls that require people of a certain likeness towards specifications that they feel best fits how they want to project a sense of creativity and vision isn’t racism. Its the world of acting, directing and show business. This is typical loudmouth garbage from some bored ahole who probably is just simply upset because nobody wants him in their filming projects.

  • cs

    My understanding is that Acura wanted to project an image of successfulness in this commercial and that is at least one of the reasons they requested a “not too dark african american”. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist ot realize the implication is that “dark african americans” are not successful. Well… I simply hope all “dark people” DO NOT buy Acuras That is best way to send a message. If being too dark means we are not good enough to be in their commercials, then being too dark means we are not good enough to buy Acuras. I am telling all of my “too dark” friends to not buy Acuras. Let’s spend our green money some place else. And BTW… I am successful, dark, and will never buy ACURA cars.


  • Red

    Actually Will, nobody listens any more. The psychotic obsession with ‘color’ is now seen as the only thing Black people have to offer. It is a cornerstone of their existence. They cannot abandon it because it serves the other cornerstone of their existence – proof of racism. My goodness, without the magic talisman of ‘color’ we might all be judged on our ability.

  • S

    Red you are right, no one, white or black, is listening.

    Don’t tell me what I can’t do, I will tell you what I can do!

  • GeminIIGyrl

    Well in order for the casting call words to be put on that piece of paper it was had to be an agreement what any and everyone was looking for. We live in a world that being too dark is a symbol of unprofessional, ugly, unregarded. For example, let’s take Destiny’s Child… you had 1 fair skinned/light skinned member and the others were dark complexion.. All eyes were on Beyonce for the most part and when she went solo, hot damn! she sold millions of records, has commercials and movie deals up the wazoo the other members can’t get off the ground with their projects. It goes to show you that we accept that fair skinned/light skinned African Americans are more profitable and better looking than those of dark complexion. So in other words Acura knew what they wanted, anyone involved knew what they wanted. Dark skinned just do not cut it; which is sad