We joined the line at Spike Lee’s open casting call in Fort Greene last night

Casting Call
Lines on lines on lines. All photos by Sam Weiss / Brokelyn

Earlier this week, director Spike Lee announced an open casting call in Brooklyn for the upcoming 10-episode Netflix revival of his 1986 film, She’s Gotta Have It. The call inevitably drew a crowd of thousands of would-be Nola Darlings and aspiring background extras to Fort Greene, just a few blocks from Lee’s Forty Acres.

The series has already cast Hamilton‘s Anthony Ramos as Lee’s original character, Mars Blackmon, but the rest of the parts are presumably up for grabs, and will be cast with many of the hopeful actors we saw queued up outside the Brooklyn Masonic Temple on Clermont Ave. last night. 

Lee’s post invited folks to show up with ID, resume and headshot in tow (union members from 5 to 6:30 and non-union 6:30 to 8). By 5pm, there was was already quite a scene.


Dozens of security guards flanked the entrance to the Temple. On the southwest corner, there was a line going halfway down the block of professionally dressed, confident looking SAG and AFTRA union members patiently waiting their turn. Going the other way, there was a ragtag non-union line, easily ten times as long, wrapping all the way up to Vanderbilt, onto Dekalb, over to Clermont and back down to Lafayette where it jutted into the union line.

“This is nothing compared to the line for Hamilton,” Andrea, 32, said. “I’ve been here since 11 and I’ll be out here all day, taking pictures, meeting people, PRing.”


At least this way people could look the part. via @uptaldevi on IG
At least this way people could look the part. via @uptaldevi on IG

Frankly, the nonunion line looked a lot more fun. There was a Red Bull car handing out free energy drinks, actors were trading head shots, somebody was selling vintage clothing to people in line. We also passed by a game of chess, folks trading tips about a Woody Allen movie filming in Brooklyn, and a conveniently parked Mister Softee truck clearly trying to cash in on anxiety eaters. This was all still over an hour before nonunion were scheduled members to be seen. Some said they’d been waiting for hours, even all day.

“There are a thousand people here, you gotta be unique,” said Mark, a 28-year-old hopeful a quarter of the way through the line. “I feel like only the camera knows.”

There were certainly a lot of hopefuls taking the standout route. We saw a couple with a baby, three separate soon-to-be-celebrity dogs and someone with an acoustic guitar, perhaps unaware that She’s Gotta Have It isn’t Once: The Musical. 

We asked a woman, Sandra, 28, what brought her there and she said, “You want to be famous, don’t you?”


Pray for me … I am up NEXT .. #Auditions #ShesGottaHaveIt A photo posted by LEBRON Da Young Motivator™ (@anthonyjlebron) on

Older hopeful Peter, 38, said that he had “just passed by and it looked like something fun to do.”

We checked back in a couple of hours later, and the scene had taken a bit of a turn. By 7:30pm, the nonunion line had quadrupled and was now wrapping all the way up to Myrtle Ave. and back. The number of actors was easily in the thousands. There was no more free Red Bull, it was raining and people were starting to lose patience.

Neighbors were rolling their eyes at the crowd on their stoops. A few people in line gave up and went home, defeated. A fight broke out between two actors, one of whom apparently kept bumping into the other in line. We overheard one woman on the phone, calculating the odds of actually getting seen by eight, which was when the event was scheduled to end.

“If we’ve got an hour, I’d say they could see… 842 more people?” (I have no idea how she arrived at that number, but it sounded like a solid guess.)

The back of the line retained a little hope. Margaret, 35, was still standing at the very end of the line half an hour before the scheduled end of the call. Another two dozen people lined up behind her as we spoke.

“It comes to a certain point where it’s like ‘OK, let’s be realistic here,'” she said. “They can’t see everyone.”

Lee’s series starts filming next week, so we can only imagine that some of yesterday’s hopeful crowd made it into the series. Currently, there’s no premiere date, but Lee is active on Instagram (that’s how he announced the casting call), so you can follow him there: @SpikeLee.

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