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Hollywood's Biggest Talent Agency Reveals the Darkside of the Film Industry

Hollywood's biggest talent agencies are speaking out about the racist trends within the walls of the film industry.

Femi Oguns, a former actor turned acting coached turned talent agent is known for bringing some of the biggest Black British actors to the silver screen. In fact, Oguns runs the talent agency that represents John Boyega, the leading man in the latest Star Wars: The Force Awakens movie. But, in a recent interview with the Independent, Oguns explains what it took for his talent agency to get off the ground and how hard it was to make it into the film industry being non-white. Helga Esteb / Shutterstock.com Helga Esteb / Shutterstock.com “I was speaking with an old-school casting director, who said ‘I’m actually looking for an actor with more negroid features’. Then she said, ‘This other character is really educated – he’s more like a white person in a black body’.”

Why are black directors in theatre only qualified to direct ‘culturally specific’ works? Theatre is still dominated by white middle-class decision-makers who are qualified not only to tell their life stories but over-qualified to tell yours also.”

“I thought ‘Wow!’ I put her in her place, so to speak. I said, ‘We’re going to have quite a hiatus until you realise what you just said’. I kept her in exile for 18 months. She was very apologetic after that.” John Boyega Star Wars In fact, John Boyega had to audition more than anyone else on the cast of Star Wars: The Force Awakens: “John had to audition more than anybody else in Star Wars to get that role. Is that a reflection globally of how we perceive ethnic minority groups?”

“John had to audition more than anybody else in Star Wars to get that role. Is that a reflection globally of how we perceive ethnic minority groups?”

Oguns also goes on to explain that the British film industry doesn't give opportunities to non-white actors and filmmakers. “That’s the only way. The black community is too passive in this country. Fourteen per cent of the population is BAME but only five per cent of talent on screen is. The BBC is just ticking boxes. It has an ‘aspiration’ for 15 per cent of BAME screen talent by 2017 – why not just make it happen? Why are black directors in theatre only qualified to direct ‘culturally specific’ works? Theatre is still dominated by white middle-class decision-makers who are qualified not only to tell their life stories but over-qualified to tell yours also.”

‘We’re going to have quite a hiatus until you realise what you just said’. I kept her in exile for 18 months. She was very apologetic after that.”

In order to combat Hollywood's racist practices, Oguns charges "reparations" - higher fees to producers who want access to his talents. “Trust me, when you do end up recognising what is here, I’m going to charge you even more money to compensate for all the time you’ve already wasted,” he says. “You will end up paying more to hire our actors to compensate them all for the time you’ve wasted.” Oguns plans on creating a school, talent agency and management company in New York, Los Angeles, and the UK. “We have always encouraged the students to see that they are the architects of their own fortune. They have to have that work ethic.” “We started off as a black drama school but the endgame now is to represent all communities – white, black or from whatever background. We have a sister school in Birmingham and we’re looking towards opening an acting school in LA. We have 25 clients positioned out there with more to follow in 2016. A New York school is on the agenda.”

If you are interested in joining Identity School of Acting and Talent Agency, you can apply here.

What do you think of Femi Ogun's film school and talent agency? Share with us your thoughts in the comments below!

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