The British-Pakistani woman who was turned back at an audition for The Hobbit because she was not white enough says she is surprised her story has caused a storm.

Naz Humphreys, in a statement today, said she posted her story on Facebook as a private prank to share with friends.

"A journalist came across the group and then called me. During our conversation I made clear that I did not want this to be a published story, but this was ignored," she said.

"It has been quite an eye-opener to read some of the comments regarding this relatively trivial story that stray into attacks on racial, ethnic and gender equality in the wider workplace."

Ms Humphreys said she went to the audition for fun and was merely annoyed at being notified of the casting requirements in the published advertisement.

"I understand that the film and theatre industries have legitimate reasons to hire performers whose appearance matches their role and I support their right to do so."

Ms Humphreys had told the Waikato Times the casting manager explained "they weren't having anybody who wasn't pale-skinned".

"It's 2010 and I still can't believe I'm being discriminated against because I have brown skin," she said.

A Hobbit casting agent who placed a newspaper advertisements seeking extras with "light skin tones" has since been dismissed.

A spokesman for Wingnut Films, Sir Peter's production company, told Agence France-Presse the unnamed agent was not directed by the company to make such restrictions.

"The crew member in question took it upon themselves to do that and it's not something we instructed or condoned."

The agent also advertised in the Bay of Plenty Times listing essential requirements for potential Hobbits, including age, 16-80, and height -- below 170cm (5 foot 7 inches) for men and 158cm (5ft 2in) for women.

The additional demand for light skin tones applied only to women.

In The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien described three races of Hobbits inhabiting the Middle Earth fantasy world which is the setting for the movies, including Harfoots, who "were browner of skin" than the others.

- NZPA








\NZP