The enormous success of Jon M. Chu’s Crazy Rich Asians paved a clear path towards a number of already confirmed sequels. There’s no telling when they will actually materialize (an unknown that precedes the current state of the world, to be clear), but that didn’t stop scammers from targeting hopeful actors with a fake casting call asking for a submission fee in exchange for an audition—a notice that caught Chu’s attention and rightful ire.
Per a recent exclusive from Variety, a user named Alan Baltes claimed to be a casting associate who was aiming to “cast” two sequels, China Rich Girlfriend and Rich People Problems. The phony call specified a need for Asian actors, ages 20s through 40s; and white actresses, ages 25-35. Interested participants would then be considered for lead roles via “live Zoom auditions.” There was a catch: Those looking to be considered would need to pay a $99 submission fee via Venmo or Google Pay. Another Twitter user noticed the bogus call and tagged Chu (one of the few wholly acceptable examples of snitch-tagging, we’ll add), who commented and alerted Warner Bros.’ legal team. Baltes’ account has since been deactivated.
“I kept reading it, and when it said ‘99 dollars,’ I was like, ‘This is f—ed up,’” Chu said to Variety. “There’s so many scams like that in L.A. anyway and to actually target, specifically, Asian actors, was very frustrating...To put on top of that this time, when we’re being othered and we’re being attacked on the streets, is even more disgusting.”
According to Variety’s report, Baltes, who has had small roles in TV shows like Desperate Housewives and Lost, previously made a very similar call in 2018 for Jurassic World. In a response to the outlet, he alleged, “someone sent me the information and was misrepresenting himself as being with casting. The person is no longer in contact with me after I inquired further. They were attempting to get me to send them money for casting calls.” When asked about the source of the false information, he further claimed that this very legitimate business exchange occurred entirely through Twitter and since his account was ultimately deleted (but not before he had the chance to block Chu, which seems like an important detail among many), he no longer has access to that information.
With all that said, if you harbor dreams of one day acting alongside Henry Golding, Constance Wu, and Gemma Chan in a long awaited sequel, it helps to remember a few things:
- The sequels are in the very, very early stages as of right now, according to Chu himself: ““We’re so far from it. We don’t have a casting director. We have never said, ‘Hey, let’s look at people who are out there.’ We’ve done zero. We don’t even have a script.”
- As Colin Trevarrow, Jurassic World director, tweeted in response to the situation: “Anyone who requests money for an audition isn’t on the level.”
- Any self-proclaimed agent who handles all business exclusively through the fickle, fickle medium that is social media is a lot of things, but a responsible agent is probably not one of them.