by JANET MANDELSTAM
Wesley Alexander had an epiphany while working on a feature at Esquire magazine a few years ago. “The story was about men’s suits,” he recalls. “I saw that all the models were blond, and I said, ‘Where is the diversity in this photo shoot?’”
After that, Alexander says, “I made it my mission to help find the voices that needed to be heard—Black, white, gay, straight, young, old.” It was that sense of purpose that led the new Bloomington resident to his current job casting television shows.
He recently finished casting Love Island on CBS. Previous shows on which he has worked include Queer Eye for Netflix, My Grandmother’s Ravioli for the Cooking Channel, and The Four, Fox’s replacement for American Idol. “In casting you look at people with a clean slate. You don’t ask questions like their age anymore,” he says, declining to reveal his own.
A native of Sewickley, Pennsylvania, Alexander attended Penn State and then studied dance and theater at Point Park University in Pittsburgh. After college he moved to New York to audition for the national tour of A Chorus Line. “I got ‘typed’ out,” he says.
His career in the magazine world included stints as promotion coordinator at GQ and director of photography at Men’s Health and Spa Finder. Along the way, Alexander toured as a performer before realizing that he didn’t need to be the one on stage. “I flipped the switch to focus on helping others get to where they needed to go,” he says.
While living in New York, Alexander says, “I was thinking about reclaiming my rural roots. Home has always been important to me, and I realized that a house, a neighborhood were missing from my life.”
The pandemic, he says, “was an eye-opener. Friends died of COVID, and you see that life is short.” He began searching home sites on the internet. “Zillow and realtor.com became my best friends. I saw a house I loved, and it just happened to be in Bloomington,” where a former colleague resides.
Now settled into his new home in the Southampton neighborhood, Alexander says his job can be done from anywhere. “I’ve worked in New York; I’ve worked in Los Angeles. If you want to tell American stories, tell them from the heartland. I feel I was brought here to find those voices and amplify them.”