"We know how hard the community has been hit here," Law & Order: SVU showrunner Warren Leight said

By Claudia Harmata
January 10, 2021 01:00 PM
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Credit: Virginia Sherwood/NBC

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit is looking for Broadway actors to cast in their show.

Last week, the popular New York-based NBC show announced their cast for an upcoming episode, revealing that Tony-nominated Hadestown actress Eva Noblezada and Beetlejuice star Alex Brightman would be joining.

When a fan commented on their Broadway resumés, showrunner Warren Leight replied, "We are trying to hire every Broadway actor we can while we and they wait for the curtains to rise again."

And in an interview with Deadline, Leight said, "We know how hard the community has been hit here. The goal is to get as many jobs to as many theater actors as we possibly can."

Eva Noblezada, Alex Brightman
| Credit: Roy Rochlin/Getty Images; Taylor Hill/Getty Images

He also explained that while the Broadway-filled roles range from one-day parts to "more substantial" appearances — they all provide a workday minimum required for union health insurance.

Amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, theaters have been forced to remain closed, leaving many of its stars unemployed. The National Endowment for the Arts recently released data that showed the overall unemployment rate has averaged at 8.5 percent. However, for actors, the rate was 52 percent, Deadline reported.

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In October, the Broadway League — the national trade association that represents the theater industry — announced that their shutdown would be extended through May 31, 2021, due to the pandemic.

"With nearly 97,000 workers who rely on Broadway for their livelihood and an annual economic impact of $14.8 billion to the city, our membership is committed to re-opening as soon as conditions permit us to do so. We are working tirelessly with multiple partners on sustaining the industry once we raise our curtains again,” Charlotte St. Martin, President of the Broadway League, said in a statement.

Broadway has remained dark since March 12, 2020, when New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and the Broadway League initially shut the theaters to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

Previously, the League had set the week of April 13, 2020, as the date when performances would resume, but has since moved back the target date numerous times. Most recently, it was expected that the shutdown, the longest in Broadway history, would end in January.

Actors' Equity Association, the national labor union representing professional actors and stage managers in live theatre, has also called on Washington to pass legislation to help industry professionals.

"This is a deeply painful time for everyone who depends on the arts for their livelihood,” Mary McColl, executive director for Actors’ Equity Association, said in a statement. "Too many in the industry need help now as we face another six months without work. The ongoing lack of work in the arts means we face a critical need for a federal COBRA health insurance subsidies, renewed federal unemployment benefits and arts funding. Washington must act."

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