Central Casting

Central Casting: Extras and Ethnicities

In 1925, Hollywood studios joined together and formed the Central Casting Bureau. At a time when aspiring motion picture players were flocking to Los Angeles, this new organization streamlined the casting process, but it also marginalized nonwhite actors. Central Casting took advantage of L.A.’s diverse social and cultural landscapes, hiring representatives within the city’s segregated ethnic enclaves to function as intermediaries when the studios called for actors of particular ethnicities. Some – even journalists working in the black press – praised the practice as a form of racial progress. But more often than not, stardom was reserved for white actors. For people of color, working as a Hollywood actor meant working as an extra.

LA as SubjectA collaboration between the USC Libraries and KCETLink, Lost LA features the member collections of L.A. as Subject, a research alliance dedicated to preserving and telling the sometimes-hidden stories and histories of the Los Angeles region.

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