Donna Belajac, a casting director out of Pittsburgh, recently got the boot from Nala Films' Shelter. She faced fierce public backlash for comments she made to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review in the wake of the following casting call:
In addition to regular folks for scenes in and around Pittsburgh, we are looking for people to populate a West Virginia 'Holler.' People who have any of the following attributes should attend: Extraordinarily tall or short. Unusual body shapes, even physical abnormalities as long as there is normal mobility. Unusual facial features, especially eyes.
We are also looking for a 9 - 12 year old Caucasian girl with an other-worldly look to her. Could be an albino or something along those lines - she's someone who is visually different and therefore has a closer contact to the gods and to magic. 'Regular-looking' children should not attend this open call.
Belajac told the paper, "Some of these 'holler' people - because they are insular and clannish, and they don't leave their area - there is literally inbreeding, and the people there often have a different kind of look. That's what we're trying to get."
This quote naturally set off a barrage of complaints including a few choice words from West Virginia Senator Robert Byrd: "This casting call reflects the insensitivity and stupidity of a sheltered film industry," a fairly broad and uneducated retort in and of itself.
Ultimately, Shelter's producers fired Belajac whose credits include the Mischa Barton horror film Homecoming. Thanks to Cinematical for gathering up all of the news clippings on this developing story.