(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
55 million Americans have disabilities, but on the screen and in television shows 95% of the characters who have disabilities are played by actors who are, well, acting.
Ruderman Family Foundation is currently attempting to remedy this situation by asking Hollywood companies to pledge to at least invite actors with disabilities to audition for roles when a new production begins, a press release on behalf of the foundation reported on Wednesday.
RJ Mitte, an actor with cerebral palsy, played the role of Walter ‘Flynn’ White in Breaking Bad
and Daryl Mitchell, who was paralyzed in 2001 in a motorcycle accident, plays in NCIS: New Orleans
, both actors are an uncommon casting choice in an industry which usually turns to normative actors.
Tom Cruise and Joaquin Phoenix took on the roles of wheelchair bound characters in 1989 Born on the Fourth of July
and 2018 Don’t worry, he won’t get far on foot.
NCIS: New Orleans
, a CBS show, got the Foundation’s Seal of Authentic Representation for the decision to cast Mitchell.
The pledge claims that “increasing auditions, no matter the size of the role, is a critical step toward achieving inclusion in the industry.”
The question of whom should play which roles isn’t always an easy one to answer.
Actors are famous for gaining weight, shedding pounds and increasing their muscle mass to portray various characters.
Laurence Olivier was able to portray Othello, a black character, in a 1965 film production of the play without being black.
Al Pacino, who is not Jewish, took on the role of Shylock in a 2004 production of The Merchant of Venice.
Neil Patrick Harris, a noted member of the LGBTQ community, played the role of womanizer Barney Stinson in How I met your mother. Robin Williams played the role of gay character Armand Goldman in the 1996 film The Birdcage without being a member of the LGBTQ community.
In the 2004 Stage Beauty, which deals with the transition in the 17th Century London theater from one in which males play all roles, including women, to one in which females play women roles – Billy Crudup asks Claire Danes what efforts had she made to learn how to be a woman on stage.
Danes answers: ‘Only my entire life.”
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