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Casting directors can change Hollywood, says Tracy 'Twinkie' Byrd

Shad talks to casting director Tracy "Twinkie" Byrd about the lack of diversity in Hollywood, and what it says about what people of colour continue to face in the film business.
Casting Director Tracy "Twinkie" Byrd attends the film premiere of TriStar Pictures' Jumping The Broom at the Arclight Cinerama Dome on May 4, 2011 in Los Angeles. (Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

The #OscarsSoWhite hashtag is still in the minds of many on social media, as the Academy Awards creep every closer.

But now it might have found a partner in a new tag: #SAGsSoBlack.

That's a reference to the Screen Actors Guild Awards, where this weekend's winners included a number of black performers, including Viola Davis, Queen Latifah and Idris Elba.

Elba praised some casting directors on their contribution to his career. That got us interested in the role that casting directors might play in achieving more diversity in mainstream films and television. So we reached out to a veteran casting director working in Los Angeles.

Tracy "Twinkie Byrd" works frequently on movies that tell the stories of African Americans. Her credits include the critically-acclaimed indie film Fruitvale Station, and Notorious. She also cast the recent Sundance movie, Southside With You.

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