The authenticity of a story not only lingers as a bad smell in writing. It also lingers in the Hollywood air when a Character has a disability, and the producer casts someone who does not. This robs the script of the character, and of its authenticity.
I define authenticity as being the best part of yourself. When we are authentic this does not mean we are being fake, or disingenuous. It is being the highest level of who you are, or the best part of yourself. It is about having the best side of who you are being utilized to the fullest extent.
A disabled actor, or actress deserves a chance and an opportunity. This is not a matter of should, or ought too. I say give them a fair chance to do their best in their part. If the shoe fits, then let them wear it. If the part is right then let them play it.
Contrasting roles has been the hot topic of Hollywood, and for the most part, It is a conversation that is found around race and gender. I would like to see an expansive amount of equality across the board.
It has made its way into issues of sexual discrimination, and some folks found that the discussion should rip open up to include the disabled. I agree on this one. I first want to preface this with that fact that I am partially sighted.
I was also told I would never be a writer as I had a mild learning block when I was a kid growing up. I am big on ethics and I say “Fuck it.”
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I say give them a damn shot if you believe they can do it. Then give them a damn shot! You could be the gold miner that discovered the new acting gold nugget in the industry.
If you’re going to discuss diversity then make it entirely inclusive of all groups that really define diversity, not just a particular group that is popular. Every one who can do the job, and do it well deserves a shot.
Across my heart, part of my personal feelings is that Producers need to start hiring people with disabilities for films including the writers that have disabilities. This does indeed bank on their abilities to do the job. This is where the dogged determination will rise above the nonsensical judgements of others. Some disabilities you can’t even see, yet assumptions can be made.
Hollywood has been criticized for years over its lack of diversity; however, corporate america has grabbed on to the idea as they are embracing diversity within groups, and often enough they can be the best group to do a job. Even with a disability, people can still function quite well and do the job.
They can act well (sometimes better) than other candidates. Why? They are used to being told “NO, you can’t do it”. What do I say to that? Damn it! You can watch me!
Stephen J. Cannell is one of my idols. He was severely dyslexic and worked really hard. Stephen J. Cannell lived with dyslexia his entire life. A life of disability is best played out by someone who has lived it. Art mimic’s reality, and it can mimic it quite well. We also can understand that reality can bring art to life.
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The disability community is a unique, talented, and an integral component of our Hollywood film industry fabric.
I feel producers need to recognize depictions of disability that are accurate, inclusive, and diverse. Hiring someone with a true disability for a part of a character that has a disability! Now that's real! That is a real damn depiction!
If you can do the job then you deserve a shot! If you can play the part you deserve a chance. If you have to work 4 times harder, then do it! If you don’t see an opportunity then go make one!
I give honors to these people in Hollywood:
Kevin Bright — Producer/Director – “Dream On”; “Friends”; “Joey”
Peter Farrelly – Writer/Director – “There’s Something About Mary”; “Dumb & Dumber”
Vince Gilligan — Producer/Writer – “Breaking Bad”; “The X-Files”; “Home Fries”
Robert David Hall – Actor – “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation”; “The Practice”
Gale Anne Hurd – Producer/Writer – “The Terminator”; “The Walking Dead”
Daryl “Chill” Mitchell – Actor/Producer – “Brothers”; “Ed”; “Galaxy Quest”
RJ Mitte — Actor - “Breaking Bad”; “House of Last Things”
Margaret Nagle — Writer/Producer – “Boardwalk Empire”; “Warm Springs”
Jane Seymour — Actress – “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman”; “Wedding Crashers”
For those who I can’t list. Kudos for hiring someone in Hollywood with a disability that can bring life to the silver screen.
See you next week! Until then find me on Twitter @screenwriterml