This past Sunday was the Golden Globes. I love watching award shows, and the Golden Globes are fun because they’re a mix of movies and TV, so it’s a little bit of everything, and there’s more of a chance that I’ve actually seen the things nominated!
Talking about the lack of diversity in Hollywood isn’t anything new, but it is something that comes up every year when award season rolls around, because seeing the award winners is a reminder of how far we still have to go, diversity-wise. But when people talk about diversity in Hollywood, they’re generally talking about racial or gender diversity – the lack of disabled representation doesn’t really get considered.
Have you heard of the term “Oscar bait?” It’s when an actor/actress takes on a role that can almost guarantee an Oscar nomination. Often, these roles are characters with disabilities, and almost always, they are played by actors without disabilities. I can count on one hand the number of actors with a disability that I’ve seen on TV or at the movie theater. Over and over again, characters with disabilities are played by actors without disabilities.
That’s the topic of this fantastic article from Teen Vogue by Alice Wong – you should definitely check it out. I’m glad that Hollywood is starting to create roles for disabled characters – but there’s no reason not to cast actors with disabilities in these roles! I love seeing disabled people represented in the media – but I’m not sure it counts as representation if there aren’t actual disabled people being cast.
I want to end this on a good note, and point out the shows that I think are doing a great job including disabled actors! Everyone loves Breaking Bad, and RJ Mitte was amazing as Flynn – both the actor and the character have cerebral palsy. The TV show Speechless stars Micah Fowler, another actor with cerebral palsy – and the plot of this show centers around his life. And finally, I’ve talked before (here) about how I love Difficult People (which sadly is now cancelled!), where Shannon DeVido appears as a hilarious recurring character who happens to have the same disease that I do, Spinal Muscular Atrophy. These are the shows that make me hopeful for the future of disability representation in the media.