Throughout the history of film and television, there has been a lot of controversy surrounding casting actors to play roles that reflect identities that are not their own, including other races, sexual orientations and abilities.
Examples of this have included Emma Stone playing a woman of Asian and Hawaiian descent in Aloha, Eddie Redmayne playing a character who is transgender in The Danish Girl and Bryan Cranston playing a man who has disabilities in The Upside.
Hollywood has been accused of whitewashing time and time again, and while there has been talk of change, we have only seen baby steps.
Recently, Academy Award-winning actress Octavia Spencer was featured in a PSA from The Ruderman Family Foundation, urging Hollywood producers and directors to not only create more opportunities for actors who have disabilities but also actually cast them for roles that reflect their identities.
This PSA comes on the heels of an open letter to the entertainment industry, where 72 actors, directors and others in the industry said that there needs to be more done to cast performers who have disabilities.
While several of the names listed refer to themselves as “disability advocates,” I can’t help but wonder why an actor who has disabilities was not included as the face of this awareness campaign.
While the talking points and key messages are spot on, I feel that this campaign misses the mark. I admire Octavia Spencer, but I feel that using her as the face of the PSA was a missed opportunity to do exactly what the campaign is seeking – cast a person who has a disability.
Our agency has long worked with organizations that advocate on behalf of individuals with disabilities and this has long been the rallying cry.
What are your thoughts?