A scheme set up by Bafta with the aim of improving diversity in the film and TV industry has come under fire from one of its former participants, who said she had experienced racist comments and a lack of promised disability support.
India Eva Rae, who joined Bafta’s Elevate programme in 2019, told the BBC that a casting director told her she was an “exotic talent”, and that they “can’t understand the English coming out your mouth”. Rae also said that she had been told not to report the incident by a “mentor” on the scheme: “This mentor told me and other members of the group that we will never work again if we speak up.”
Bafta CEO Amanda Berry said in response that the organisation “was aware that [Rae] had had a negative experience with a casting director, as they mentioned it in passing … but we are not aware that this happened as part of the Elevate programme.” The BBC also report that Bafta said it had not received any complaints about either incident, but that if it had, they would have been taken extremely seriously.
Rae also said she had difficulties accessing disability support.
Rae was selected in 2019 for Bafta’s Elevate programme after featuring in the Channel 4 anthology series On the Edge. Elevate was set up in 2017 and is described by Bafta as “a new bespoke annual programme that aims to elevate individuals from under-represented groups to the next stage of their career”. It was one of a set of initiatives introduced by Bafta to increase diversity in the film and TV industry, alongside changes to eligibility for its awards and membership process. Bafta recently joined the the BFI to relaunch a programme to combat bullying, harassment and racism in the screen industries.
Berry added: “It is a matter of great sadness and regret for me that anyone would feel this way, and our door remains completely open to find a solution, and to ensure that every participant benefits from the scheme.”
“I know that other participants have found this to be a truly fantastic opportunity.”
In a statement to Deadline, Bafta said: “Bafta condemns bullying, harassment, racism and discrimination of any kind and we take allegations of this nature incredibly seriously and will investigate urgently. We go to great lengths to ensure our programmes are as inclusive and accessible as possible for everyone who takes part, whatever their specific support needs are, and have responded to and want to resolve the participant’s requests in this area.”