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Baz Luhrmann Wants You to Star in His Netflix Show About The Bronx

By Eddie Small | March 3, 2015 7:47am
 Casting has begun for "The Get Down," and the creators hope to see Bronx natives try out for some parts.
"The Get Down" Auditions
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THE BRONX — Casting has started for an upcoming Netflix series about a group of South Bronx teenagers, and series director Baz Luhrmann hopes to see some borough natives try out.

Luhrmann, better known for glitter-filled productions such as the Leonardo de Caprio remake "The Great Gatsby," Nicole Kidman musical epic "Moulin Rouge" and the Leonardo Caprio and Claire Danes Shakespeare remake "Romeo + Juliet," is working on a series about NYC in the 1970s called “The Get Down."

The show is seeking African-American or Hispanic/Latino men and women between ages 18 and 21 for major roles in the series, according to its casting website. Luhrmann said he was very enthusiastic about casting actors and actresses from the borough.

“Nothing would make all those involved in ‘The Get Down’ more thrilled than to find cast members from The Bronx itself,” Luhrmann said in an email. “So I can only encourage anyone who fits the criteria of the auditions to audition. You never know until you try.”

Audition videos are due to www.thegetdowncasting.com by March 10 and should include an introduction, a short dance, a story about the actor or actress and a song, rap or poem.

Candice Francis, a student at Hostos Community College who grew up in The Bronx, said she was very excited about the series and planned to try out for it.

She is going to school for accounting but is involved with her college's theater program and has a role in its upcoming play "Emotional Creature."

Casting real Bronxites for roles in "The Get Down" would help the series seem much more realistic, something television shows can often struggle with, she said.

"When you’re trying to portray an image or you’re trying to get a certain character to appear some way, it’s hard because they don’t know what it truly means to be in that environment," she said.

Although Francis is 22, she said she is not worried that this will be an issue in terms of auditioning because she still looks like a teenager.

"It’s got the best of both worlds," she said. "You've got maturity, but then you've got the immature, innocent kind of look."

Dante Albertie, director of the Lehman Stages program at Lehman College, was happy that the series would seek out Bronx residents as well.

"We have some amazingly talented kids coming through here that don’t get the opportunities that they should," he said, "so I will definitely get the word out about it."

Many Lehman students are already excited about auditioning for the series, including 21-year-old Andrew Lekhraj, who lives in Soundview and studies theater and music. He agreed with Francis that casting Bronxites in the show would help with its authenticity.

"People have this idea of what The Bronx is like, but unless you’re actually from The Bronx you don’t know," he said. "You really don’t."

“The Get Down” will premiere on Netflix in 2016 and consist of 13 one-hour episodes. It aims to tell the story of how music genres like hip-hop, punk and disco came out of New York when it was on the verge of bankruptcy.

Bronxites who lived through the 1970s have expressed concerns that "The Get Down" could focus too much on the borough's negative stereotypes, but a spokesman for the series described it as a "comeback story" for The Bronx and the city that will highlight what the borough is like today as well as what it was like in the past.

The show is also reaching out to Bronxites from the 1970s and several of its writers are from New York City, according to the spokesman.

Joe Conzo Jr., a photographer who documented The Bronx extensively during the 1970s, stressed that it would be very important for "The Get Down" to consult with people who lived through the era, and he applauded the series for looking to cast local youths.

"It’s a step in the right direction," he said, "and we commend them for that."