Enabling disabled actors

We’ve talked a bit about the portrayal of disabilities on the silver screen, but what about in the movies?

It was recently pointed out to me that disabled characters are often the villains. Think Darth Vader, Captain Hook and the six fingered man in the Princess Bride. This messes with how the public perceives disabilities.

Strides are being made in this category, but many people wonder why disabled characters are often played by able-bodied actors. The obvious and overused comparison is that you no longer “black-up” actors. So why is it so accepted for disabled roles?

So for the sake of equal opportunity employment, and considering able-bodied actors are taking disabled roles….disabled actors should be cast for able-bodied roles.

When casting a part why assume that every part has to be played by a non-disabled actor? Why not consider giving a character a disability without worrying about integrating the disability into the script? Why not make sure that your extras sometimes include people with visible impairments?  —mediaanddisability.org

It actually makes a lot of sense and will impact our culture and perceptions of disabilities the way disabled villains are partially responsible for some bad reactions towards the disabled. Why should a disabled person follow a different script than an able-bodied person? They share a similar script every day, so why should it matter on screen?

I think a lot of the reservations towards casting disabled actors stems from Hollywood’s fear. In a city where careers are based on appearance, it’s scary to endure Hollywood when you are one accident away from losing everything.

Society fears disability because it is the only minority we could all become part of.  —backstage.com

I think it would be so cool to see a movie who’s protagonist has a disability but is never directly addressed in the movie.


2 thoughts on “Enabling disabled actors

  1. i like this post, except for the last sentence. “I think it would be cool to see a movie who’s protagonist has a disability but is never directly addressed in the movie.” The thing is, having a disability is a part of our lives. (Those who have disabilities). And, when meeting someone new, often it has to be addressed, to explain to them why we may not respond the way others do, or what we need to do to help ourselves. If it’s not addressed, there’s no explanation given for an entire part of who they are. True, it does not define them, but disabilities do affect us.

    • That is a good point. How about we get a couple movies with varying levels of addressing disabilities outright. We don’t need just one movie like this and variety is the spice of life! 😉

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