Josh Thomas has apologised for statements he made during a 2016 panel discussion around casting.
A Writers’ Room session held at the Sydney Opera House featured Thomas, Celia Pacquola, Luke McGregor and US writer Dan Harmon (Community, Rick and Morty), hosted by Gretel Killeen.
When Pacquola spoke about a frustration of finding diverse actors for Rosehaven in Tasmania, Thomas spoke about the responsibility of casting he discovered as a young producer on Please Like Me.
“Is this is going to sound racist? Let’s find out,” he conceded. “We’ve tried really hard for years now.
“But I think most of the immigrants in Australia have come pretty recently. And generally, first or second-generation immigrants don’t want to be actors.
“They have ‘real jobs,'” he joked.
“I found it really hard. It was a high priority for us from the beginning.”
He continued, “The other thing I didn’t know about making a TV show that I found quite confronting is you have to pick every person in the show.
“It’s like, ‘Josh, what do you want the 7-11 worker to look like?’ Do you make them Indian, or is that offensive? Or if you make them white, is it a bit like you’re lying, really? What do you do?”
Pacquola asked, “But also, it’s taking a job away from an Indian actor if you don’t?”
“What answer is not offensive? I don’t know” Thomas admitted, before McGregor acknowledged,“We’re probably not going to come to the answer with this panel.”
Writer Dan Harmon later noted, “In the States the answer is you have to look harder.”
Thomas, who most recently produced Everything’s Gonna Be Okay in the US, has apologised on Twitter.