"During email correspondence, I was offered a role for the TYA (Theatre for Young Audience) series. After discussing pay and schedule, I was asked if I would mind shaving or cutting my hair. I responded to let them know I was not comfortable with cutting my hair. In many auditions, I was asked by Bernard or casting at the time about cutting my hair. Every time I explained that my hair is a representation of my heritage and upbringing as part of the Native Muscogee tribe. I was always brushed off, and obviously it was an issue for them, as they continued to ask me every time. This email was no different. Except this time, after already being offered the role, Tom informed me that he would need to run all casting decisions by Bernard Havard. I was then asked to send a photo of my long hair. I did. The following email simply said, "We are going to go in a different direction". I later saw photos of the show, "Goosebumps", and the actor they used to for the role I was offered, was white, and wore a beanie the entire time. So it was obviously not about my long hair.
I was not a union actor at the time. I didn't feel like my voice would be heard, and many people working at WST had warned me about their blacklisting frequency. Which is against union policy, but so hard to enforce.
I have auditioned for what feels like hundreds of companies at this point in my career. Some, I feel very welcome in the room, other's are neither here nor there, but at WST, if Bernard is running the room, I have NEVER felt welcome. I'm almost always dismissed by him. His casting will usually have me do multiple things for them, but if I see him in the room, I know I'm there for a short unpleasant time."
-Topher Eufaula Layton (They/He/She)