A lot of people would say that over the years, media platforms of all types have become more diverse and inclusive. We are seeing more POC represented in popular projects and gaining the attention they deserve, there has been a major increase in representation of the LGBT+ community (though if you ask me, I’ve mostly noticed just the LG part, not enough BT). And all of this is really really great but.. The media is forgetting one of the largest minority groups out there, disabled people. And before anyone freaks out, I myself am disabled. I was born paralyzed from the waist down, and to me disabled isn’t a “dirty word”. However, that seems to be the case all across the board in mainstream media.
Representation of the disabled community makes up only about 2% of TV and film; within that two percent, 95% of the roles go to non-disabled people who have no idea what it’s actually like to be disabled.
Now I know that when it comes to TV shows and movies the actor needs to have talent and the capability to really perform, but you can’t tell me that out of nearly 40 million people (in the US), that there aren’t talented, perfectly capable people out there that could play a character with a disability they already have? Off the top of my head I can think of only four actors I’ve seen on shows with real disabilities; Peter Dinklage from Game of Thrones, Lauren Potter from Glee, Micah Fowler from Speechless, and Daryl Mitchell from NCIS: New Orleans. There are other people out there with disabilities who have managed to snag small roles, but those are the major ones I can think of. Because of this lack of representation, authentic or otherwise, it causes society to see disability as a rarity, which it’s not. It also tends to push the stigma that disabled people are all sob stories or can not take care of themselves.
Yes, being disabled makes things difficult and can be sad, and yes, SOME disabled people need more help than others.And that’s okay.
What is not okay is people seeing disabled people on a screen with these tragic stories and thinking it’s like that for all of us. I think that this also applies to representation of any minority group. Why can’t there just be a normal role like the kinds you would give to able-bodied people, but just make the character have a disability? It really should not be that hard.
With that being said: Dear Hollywood writers, producers, directors, casting directors, and all the higher-ups in between, do better. All the progress you have made with representation of POC and the LGBT community has been going wonderfully, PLEASE do the same for those of us with a disability who just want a chance to prove we have what it takes.
An angry paraplegic who is tired and just wants a chance to act and authentically represent this minority