Stop including weight, height and chest size on resume, Halifax director urges

1 / 3
Stop including weight, height and chest size on resume, Halifax director urges

Neptune Theatre's new artistic director is pushing for an end to the "archaic" practice of listing an actor's height, weight and other measurements on resumes.

Jeremy Webb posted to Facebook on Thursday about the issue, asking actors and agents to remove the numbers.

"It's 2017 and I do not need to know an actor's chest size when casting them for a role. I don't need to know their waist size," Webb told the CBC's Maritime Noon on Friday.

"I need to know that they are engaged, talented, motivated, that they have the skills, the singing range, the dancing ability, the acting ability, to do the job."

Start of broader discussion

Webb said the stories of sexual harassment emerging from the industry against director Harvey Weinstein and others are starting a more serious conversation about what's acceptable.

"To get into that unnecessary private information about a person's body type should not have a bearing on whether or not you get a role," Webb said.

"In the same way that accepting a Hollywood movie executive's invitation to go to a hotel room late at night should not have a bearing on whether you get a role … that kind of stuff just cannot happen."

Shift in the last 10 years

But thankfully, Webb said the measurements are something he's seen less of in the last decade.

Ciel Crosby has noticed the same downward trend.

Crosby represents actors with Sky Talent Group Inc. in Dartmouth. She said while she does still see these in the commercial world, in television and film there's been a definite change.

"What you see in your neighbourhood here in Canada is what we want to see on screen. That means we want all people of shapes, sizes, ethnicities, sexes, everything should be represented on that screen," said Crosby, who lets her actors decide whether they include measurements.

"Especially for women, there is a tradition in the performing arts about fat-shaming women. I've had friends sharing stories with me all day about times they auditioned and were fat-shamed, even some of them as children."

Crosby said there are some times when a director might need those numbers. She said if there's a period piece that includes historical clothing, those garments can't be altered. In other cases, everyone in a chorus line should be about the same height.

Richard Hadley with the Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists (ACTRA) in Halifax said he sometimes sees the numbers being important when films are looking for stunt doubles or stand-ins — cases where people need to look like the lead actor.

"So that's sort of significant for those roles. But for others … I'm not seeing people say, 'This person has to be this height, this weight, this ethnicity,'" Hadley said.

Move long overdue

He believes it's also part of a broader discussion.

"It's a question of female actors in particular saying, 'We're being forced to be a certain type, a certain look, a certain age to get work and that's not appropriate and to stop objectifying us, and look at us as performers.' And I think that's great."

Both Crosby and Hadley praised Webb's decision, saying it's long overdue.

Webb said until he starts seeing these numbers removed, he will be using a marker to cross them out on any resumes that pass over his desk.