The director felt that Diahann Carroll was too sophisticated to play the role of a welfare mother. However, Carroll was from the Bronx, knew women like Claudine and knew she could play that part as well as anyone else.
On his apartment wall, Roop Marshall has a poster of "The River Niger," a popular Broadway play at the time. James Earl Jones, who plays Roop, would later play the lead role of Johnny Williams in the film version of The River Niger (1976). Roxie Roker, who plays the social worker Mrs. Winston, received an Obie Award and a Tony nomination for her performance in the Off-Broadway and Broadway productions of the play.