In a movie, play, or TV show, the practice of hiring actors whose race is different from that of the characters they portray. Also: race-bending, race bending.
When the film, The Last Airbender was released in 2010, there was a lot of controversy surrounding the casting of white actors into lead roles that were originally meant for people of color— this practice, called "racebending," has been unfortunately popular in the film industry.
—Jamilya Ramos, "The Last Racebender," Campus Progress, September 11, 2012
A number of commenters, speaking about the casting of Mr. Kingsley in "Iron Man 3," have been decrying a possible case of "yellowface," the Asian corollary of blackface in which white vaudevillians would paint their faces to play African-American characters. Similar terms are "racebending" and "whitewashing."
—Mark McDonald, "Can Ben Kingsley "Play Chinese'?," The New York Times (blog post), July 18, 2012
It lead me to wonder if there are players out there who "Race Bend", and is it as common as those who gender bend.
—George Lara, quoted in Dan Hunter, "Race Bending," Terra Nova, March 14, 2006
The more general sense of this term — the reversal or mixing of racial stereotypes — dates to at least 1995:
A funny thing happened at the test screenings of "White Man's Burden," the race-bending John Travolta-Harry Belafonte drama that opens nationwide Friday: The audience laughed. Or rather, half the audience...
The film's premise is simple: What if African Americans were the dominant culture in America, and whites an oppressed minority?
—Todd Coleman, "As complex as black and white," Los Angeles Times, November 26, 1995
A nod of thanks goes to Word Spy reader bfwriter for suggesting this term.