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BAFTA Diversity Scheme Under Fire After Actress Says She Was Called "Exotic Talent"

Eamonn M. McCormack / Getty
India Eva Rae
BAFTA says it had been made aware of an experience that occurred with a casting director, but says that it didn't happen at an event on its Elevate program.

A BAFTA initiative aimed at improving diversity in the U.K.'s film and TV industry has come under fire after an actress said she faced racist comments while on the scheme.
India Eva Rae joined the BAFTA Elevate program — set up in 2017 to support those from under-represented groups progress to the next stage of their career — in its 2019 intake, having starred in the Channel 4 series On the Edge.

However, speaking to the BBC, she described the initiative — which was born out a research report commissioned by BAFTA, the British Film Institute and ScreenSkills — as a "PR exercise," with participants merely recruited to help "clean up" BAFTA's image around issues of diversity.
Part of the Elevate program sees participants invited to take part in workshops, masterclasses, industry introductions, events and peer-to-peer meetings, tailored to help the individuals reach their career goals.

But in one meeting, Rae said that a casting directors described her as an "exotic talent," saying that she "couldn't understand the English coming out of your mouth."
When she turned to advice from one of the mentors on the scheme, Rae claims she was told not to report the incident. "This mentor told me and other members of the group that we will never work again if we speak up," she said.

CEO Amanda Berry told the BBC that she had been made aware that Rae had had a negative experience involving a casting director, but said that it hadn't happened at an event on the Elevate program. Berry also said that while BAFTA hadn't received any complaints about either incident described by Rae, they would have been taken extremely seriously had they been reported.
"It is a matter of great sadness and regret for me that anyone would feel this way, and our door remains completely open to find a solution and to ensure that every participant benefits from the scheme," Berry told the BBC. "I know that other participants have found this to be a truly fantastic opportunity."

The Hollywood Reporter has reached out to BAFTA for further comment.


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