UPDATE: Now that Lesly Kahn has confirmed that it was her who made the comments (see image at the the bottom of this piece), we have edited this story to reflect this new information. In addition, on February 27, The Daily Beast spoke with the woman who originally recorded the acting class and leaked the audio to her friends and others. The leaked audio has been taken down from Facebook, but it is still on Twitter. Latino Rebels did receive a copy of the audio and has listened to it completely We have posted it here.
An audio recording was sent to us via email and social media about five times so far (and counting). From what we can tell, the original close to 4-minute audio was also posted earlier on Sunday by the Facebook page of Dani Fernandez, who also said this, “A cool thing to discover is the head of .your acting studio telling a white actress to dye her hair, change her name, and start going as Latin so she can get more work. As if being Latino is a hat white people can just try on. I’m exhausted. This is completely unacceptable.” (The video has now been taken down by Facebook, but the audio is below.)
A shorter version of the audio got Twitter attention from @Lexialex. Fernandez tweeted about the audio on Twitter as well, saying “I was also sent the full recording of this where they suggest she dyes her hair, changes her name, and goes as Latin ‘as an experiment’ – As if being Latino is a hat white people can just try on. I’m done with this.” She later added in another tweet, “This is the other part that was sent to me. I am shaking. Our culture is not something for white people to “try on” for fun. This is beyond upsetting and happens at agencies and studios. This has to stop. This doesn’t fix anything. This hurts us.”
The voice of the acting coach belongs to Lesly Kahn of Los Angeles’ Lesly Kahn & Company, an actor training company that is well-known in the industry.
From what we can make, here are some key exchanges from the audio that was posted on Twitter and also shared with us on Sunday:
KAHN: I can’t be the first person that suggested this.
YOUNG ACTRESS: Yeah you are. I get ethnically ambiguous all the time. I took a 23 and Me, and I’m 100% Ashkenazi Jewish… But yeah, no one’s ever told me to change my name.
OTHER VOICE: I 100 percent thought you were Latin when we came here.
YOUNG ACTRESS: And I get that. I’m Armenian.
KAHN: Fuck the Armenian, that’s not going to help you. The Latin could actually get you interviews for representation. Just the fact that your name is ROSA RAMIREZ is gonna get you a meeting.
Later in the audio, Kahn tells the young actress to go get a new headshot and “tell them you’re Latin.”
“Wear something fucking red. Wear some fucking sparkly earrings,” Kahn continues. “Change your goddamned name and let’s just do an experiment. You know what I mean? Just fucking come up with most Latin name you can come up with, and I mean I don’t know what we’re going to do. if they ask is she’s really Latin. I don’t know how we’re going to handle that. Maybe no one will ask. Aren’t we allowed to change our names to whatever we want to change our names to? And she already looks it. So stop admitting to being a huge Jew, ok? That’s not going to help you. Speaking as one, it’s not going to help. As a Jew, it doesn’t help. So just try it, and keep us posted, like the saga of Rosa Ramirez.”
Kahn’s Facebook page has begun to get comments about the audio. Under a photo of Netflix’s “One Day at a Time” reboot (with Latinx actors, ironically), one person posted this: ” Are any of these actors pretending to be “Latin,” like you recommend to others?”
Under a post about actor Tyler Ritter, someone posted this: “Did you advise him to lie about this ethnicity?”
Twitter also has several tweets about the audio:
Lesly Kahn girl this your voice? Or one of your teachers? If it’s one of your teachers she has “a lot of splaining to do “ @HispanicArts @HHFoundation
— Sofia Gonzalez (@sofialandla) February 25, 2018
If you go to @leslykahn STOP. If you work for her ENOUGH is ENOUGH. That tape isn’t even the worst thing she’s ever said in those rooms and you know it! Get out of that building and go make art! Be authentic. She is part of the problem. Stop giving her your money.
— Jennifer Zaborowski (@jzabs) February 25, 2018
I would 100% agree with you in previous years, but being behind the scenes as both an EP and actress, I can tell you the tone has changed in both casting and representation. Lesly Kahn is responding in a shitty way to Hollywood by telling students to lie about being white.
— Michele Morrow (@michelemorrow) February 25, 2018
Latino Rebels reached out to Lesly Kahn & Company (twice) for comment about the audio. As of this posting, the company has not responded to LR.
UPDATE: Lesly Kahn’s Twitter shared a statement at 1:45pmET on Monday.
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