The success of 2018's breakout hit,Crazy Rich Asians is having some unfortunate side effects. Director of the movie, Jon M. Chu, was recently made aware of a Twitter user named Alan Baltes, whose bio identified him as an actor and casting associate for the sequel to Crazy Rich Asians, and who had issued a casting call for Asian actors, asking for a $99 submission fee from those wishing to audition. After Chu reported the Crazy Rich Asians casting scam to the relevant authorities, Baltes's Twitter account was deactivated. In a comment to Variety after the publication reached out to him, Baltes claimed total ignorance as to the unethical nature of the casting call he had issued.
"Someone sent me the information and was misrepresenting himself as being with casting. The person is no longer in contact with me after I inquired further. They were attempting to get me to send them money for casting calls."
In the past, Baltes had issued a similar casting call asking talent to submit money in order to try out for director Colin Trevorrow's Jurassic World: Dominion. In that case also, Trevorrow had been forced to take to social media to denounce the call as a scam. Baltes is now claiming that no one paid any money. When he was asked who originally provided the false information, he firmly stated that he no longer had the information since it was on his Twitter account, which is now deleted.
The advertisement asked for actors of Asian descent, ages 20s through 40s, for lead roles for Crazy Rich Asians 2 and a possible third sequel via "live Zoom auditions." There was also a part listed for a Caucasian female between ages 25-35. It was the blatant attempt to con aspiring actors out of their money with a submission fee that Chu had the biggest issue with.
"I kept reading it, and when it said '99 dollars,' I was like, 'This is f-ed up. There's so many scams like that in L.A. anyway and to actually target, specifically, Asian actors, was very frustrating."
Jon M. Chu explained that the paucity of roles for Asian-Americans in traditional Hollywood movies, coupled with the fresh hope ignited by the success of Crazy Rich Asians in placing Asians front and center of a blockbuster is what makes the scam particularly devious.
"Asian American actors finally get the opportunity or the hope that there are roles and parts out there. People have this light inside of them to pursue this dream that they never thought was possible before, and to take advantage of that and know that you can take $99 for a fake audition is just disgusting,"
For the sequel to Crazy Rich Asians, while Chu is open to the idea of holding open casting calls, as was done for the original movie, he stated that his team was still a long way away from thinking about casting.
"We're so far from it. We don't have a casting director. We have never said, 'Hey, let's look at people who are out there.' We've done zero. We don't even have a script."
Hopefully, Chu's prompt action in shutting down the scam will help prevent any more actors from falling prey to such dishonest agents who claim to be able to get you fresh work but are only interested in taking your money. This news was first reported by Variety.