When you read the casting calls posted on Lady Parts, you’d think you were reading some sort of parody or descriptions for female roles in a cheesy porno:
“[Seeking] Female. 18-26. This role requires you to be topless,” reads one listing. “You will be playing one of the main characters [sic] spirit animal which happens to be a half naked woman wearing a unicorn mask.”
“Lady in her 20s-30s. Comfortable in pasties and having sushi on her body,” reads another.
Instead, these are unfortunate excerpts from actual casting calls. In October of last year, New York-based actor and writer Katrina Day got fed up with the demeaning character descriptions she read every day while searching for auditions. After she saw one in particular (“[Seeking] Beautiful girl. Non-speaking.”) the idea for Lady Parts was born. The Tumblr is a space where the misogynistic and retrograde requests of female actors can be made public. It’s a space where other actors could also share the ridiculous casting calls they’d come across, akin to the popular Tumblr Shit People Say to Women Directors.
Now, Lady Parts has its own web series. After a successful Kickstarter campaign, Day launched Lady Parts: A Webseries in October, illustrating the absurd day-to-day prejudices a female actor faces. For example, in the first episode, “Rape Joke,” shows Day quitting an acting gig after her director tells the actors to “get their rape on” before rehearsing a rape scene.
In the second episode, “Prop Comedy,” an improv team of bros look for a “hot girl” to join their group and would rather choose a mop with a wig than an talented but “unattractive” female improv actor. With humor, snark, and absurdity, Lady Parts: A Webseries points out some of the many, many ways the film, television, and theater industries systemically discriminate against women.
Both Day’s Tumblr and web series point out the disheartening reality already familiar to the aspiring female actor: Not only are female roles hard to come by (especially when 100 percent of major film studio CEOs are male), but it’s rare to find female roles that’s not built around stereotypes (“[Seeking] a sassy, no-nonsense black secretary who tells it like it is” as one casting call on the Lady Parts Tumblr reads) or is actually a complex character—many female roles listed on the site require only a “hot body,” or an “ability to wear glasses.”
And it doesn’t help that female actors, when they do speak up, risk losing their jobs. Last summer, actor Rose McGowan tweeted a screen grab of a casting note she received for an audition in an Adam Sandler movie that encouraged female actors to wear “tight clothing” and push-up bras. McGowan was fired by her agent for the tweet.
Still, no matter the risks, Day writes on the Lady Parts blog that women shouldn’t remain silent. “There’s a lot of pressure placed on female actors to laugh off problematic treatment, behavior, and language within the entertainment industry,” writes Day. “This blog is intended to be a place where we can all laugh in the face of sexism, instead of just laughing it off. Because while it’s absurd to the point of being hilarious, it’s still fucking absurd.”