Bill Fletcher Jr.ColumnistsOp-EdOpinion

Long Lines for a Casting Call

Bill Fletcher

By Bill Fletcher, Jr.
NNPA Columnist

This past weekend I went to a casting call for a video series.  No, I was not personally auditioning. I went with a friend who decided that she wanted to take a shot at a “walk on” role in this series.

Let me set the stage, so to speak.  The casting call was in a suburb of Baltimore.  It was a beautiful day.  The producers were doing interviews between 10-2.  When we arrived, at approximately 10:30 am, there were at least 1,000 people in line.  People kept joining the line well after we arrived.  We waited in line for three hours and 15 minutes before my friend was able to get an interview.  The line moved in fits and starts until, finally, we got into the building for the interview.

There were several striking things about being in line.  First, everyone was very well behaved.  Despite the fact that there was frustration at how long it was taking, no one around us “lost it.” A second feature was the extent to which the hopes of so many people radiated throughout the group.  People came dressed in an assortment of ways and it was clear that some people were there truly invested in getting a role, while others looked at it as simply a long-shot on a very nice day.

The group was very diverse, though it was not quite a snapshot of the U.S.A.  There appeared to be few Latinos and Asians, but a respectable number of African Americans.  Most people were under the age of 40.

The entertainment industry is really the dream industry.  It is, more than anything else in this society, a location which people seek out in order to wipe away the realities of their everyday life and in which they hope to find something special.  This is not an indictment or criticism but rather an observation.  As an industry it has amazing potential to tell stories that go straight to the brain and the heart, and, in the alternative, to tell stories that mystify and blur the truths behind our existence.

Standing in line I watched others.  I overheard bits of conversations.  Perhaps what I sensed, more than anything, was something that was not spoken.  It was this deep sense of hope—sometimes covered over with notes of humor—that you felt, standing in line, to the effect that each person there was on the verge of what can be thought of as a transformational experience.

To each of those on line, including my friend, I said or wanted to say:  ”break a leg!”  Or simply, “go for it!”  Enjoy each moment and take a chance.

Bill Fletcher, Jr. is not an actor, but at last report is a racial justice, labor and global justice activist and writer.  Follow him on Facebook and at


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Bill Fletcher Jr.

Bill Fletcher Jr has been an activist since his teen years. Upon graduating from college he went to work as a welder in a shipyard, thereby entering the labor movement. Over the years he has been active in workplace and community struggles as well as electoral campaigns. He has worked for several labor unions in addition to serving as a senior staffperson in the national AFL-CIO. Fletcher is the former president of TransAfrica Forum; a Senior Scholar with the Institute for Policy Studies; an editorial board member of; and in the leadership of several other projects. Fletcher is the co-author (with Peter Agard) of “The Indispensable Ally: Black Workers and the Formation of the Congress of Industrial Organizations, 1934-1941”; the co-author (with Dr. Fernando Gapasin) of “Solidarity Divided: The crisis in organized labor and a new path toward social justice“; and the author of “‘They’re Bankrupting Us’ – And Twenty other myths about unions.” Fletcher is a syndicated columnist and a regular media commentator on television, radio and the Web.

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