I should be offended

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k_theis
Kevin Theis, Actor

Recently we posted a blog about encountering racism at an audition (Pride, Prejudice and Pepperoni) where we asked others to share an experience that one might consider racist during an audition.  One of the first to respond was actor, Kevin Theis. Feel free to send your own audition tales to blog@breakdownservices.com.

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I should be offended.

I am not offended.

I should be outraged, disgusted, apoplectically furious on behalf of my proud heritage.

Instead, I just want the job.

It never fails that- as sure as the leaves will turn brown in the Fall and the UPS guy will switch to shorts in the Spring- come February, I will be asked to transform myself into the Lucky Charms guy and do about eight or nine egregiously offensive, stereotypical and ridiculous voiceover auditions in anticipation of St. Patrick’s Day.

Sometimes it’s for the Illinois or Wisconsin or Iowa lottery.  Sometimes it’s for a big event or festival taking place on March 17th. Sometimes it’s for a beer company (it’s VERY OFTEN for a beer company).

And the copy is always something really subtle like “Faith and begorra!  So ye want me gold do ya?  Well that’s a lot of blarney!  But if you buy one of the scratch off cards this St. Patrick’s Day from the Illinois lottery, maybe ye can have some gold of yer own and leave poor leprechauns like me alone!  Now I’m off to the end of the rainbow to have a donnybrook with a banshee and drink some Guinness and [insert Irish stereotype here].”

lead_960And I should be offended.  But I’m really not.

Not because I don’t consider it semi-racist (it is) or even mildly offensive (it is…but mildly).  It is because I do not have the right to complain.

“Okay, Kevin, it’s Black History Month and we’d like to hear your best imitation of Martin Luther King.  Let’s start with ‘I have a dream…’”

Never once, not ever, not a single time in my life have I ever suffered because of the color of my skin, the blood in my veins or the name on my resume.  People look at foreign (or foreign-sounding) names all the time and immediately dismiss the candidate (“I don’t think I have anything for ‘LaShawn/Mohammad/Barack Hussein’ today….) but no one has ever said “Mmmmm, I don’t know.  Should we call in Kevin?”.

And let’s be clear:  Just as Chief Wahoo, the mascot of the Cleveland Indians is totally racist (picture the grinning, ridiculous face of any other ethnic group staring out goofily from a baseball cap), the Irish-accented voice of the stereotypical leprechaun-guy in the St. Patrick’s Day ad is racist too.  If you don’t think so, imagine if I was asked to do another accent for another holiday or event.

“Okay, Kevin, it’s Black History Month and we’d like to hear your best imitation of Martin Luther King.  Let’s start with ‘I have a dream…’”

Or

“For this spot, we’re looking for someone to be the voice of the Chinese New Year.  Do you have a convincing Asian accent you could give us?”

No, no, no, no.  Unacceptable.  Ninety-nine out of a hundred voice-over actors would walk out of that audition.  (The hundredth would be that closeted Alt-Right actor who gets all the pro-Trump radio spots.)

But when it comes to St. Patrick’s Day, I line up every year with the rest of my Irish (and non-Irish) actor friends to give them our most outrageous, blue-stars-orange-hearts-and-green-clovers, Lucky Charms voice without a qualm.

Because…it doesn’t count as racist if you’re a leprechaun.

Right?

Submitted by:
Kevin Theis

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