Disability is the largest minority in the world, yet it is the most underserved and in the media.
I think this starts with how disability has been perceived in the media over the years. And the many disability myths that have accumulated. For example, disability has been used in the past to represent evil. the character of Captin Hook, the hunchback of Notre Dame, and most recently Anne Hathaway's character in "The Witches". For example, disability is often viewed as a burden; "Me in front of you," and as HuffPost reporter Elyse Wanshel recently stated, "The shape of water" conveys the message "If you don't fit in with society, it is better that you go."
Additional obstacles that we often face are inauthentic casting, lack of access to work, lack of various gatekeepers, so many myths and a lot of authenticity with integrity.
I am the CEO of C Talent, a talent management company that represents d / Deaf and Disabled artists. We're proud to represent artists like CJ Jones, who worked on films like Baby Driver (2017) and the Avatar franchise. Danny Murphy, who starred alongside Breaking Bads in Aaron Paul in The Parts You Lose (2019). Tatiana Lee, who has modeled for brands like Apple, Target and Zappos. Samantha Manni's book sells at Target, Walmart, and other major retailers, and Paralympian Jean-Baptiste Alaize, who represented France at the 2016 Paralympic Games and is one of the subjects featured in the recent Netflix documentary Rising Phoenix ( 2020) were presented.
We see common misunderstandings every day. So let's get down to business and start destroying myths …
1) MYTH: "Action is action, so people without disabilities should be able to play characters with disabilities."
CHOPPED: If a black character was played by a non-black actor and the actor painted his face, that would be blackface. Olivia Spencer recently agreed: "It's abusive, unjust, and deprives an entire community of people of the opportunities to cast actors with disabilities in roles for characters with disabilities."
2) MYTH: "People with disabilities are liabilities on the set".
CHOPPED: Very few companies have disability claims. A review of EEOC data shows that people with disabilities have fewer claims than either gender or age group.
3) MYTH: "Accommodation is too expensive".
CHOPPED: Most accommodations (81%) cost less than $ 100 (around £ 170) and 73% of employers found that their employees with disabilities did not need housing. In addition, these accommodations for employees with disabilities were found to benefit the aging workforce of organizations, the report said.
4) MYTH: "People with disabilities must play characters written for a character who claims they have a disability."
CHOPPED: You can audition people with disabilities for ALL roles, doctors, lawyers, teachers, etc. Disability does not discriminate and is a part of life for most. A big step in overcoming the stigma of disability is to include disabilities in non-disabled work. Where it's just coincidental.
5) MYTH: "There aren't enough talent with disabilities and they were too hard to find that I couldn't hire them."
CHOPPED: There are many organizations, like mine, that have professional, talented, and disabled artists.
6) MYTH: "I cannot hire people with disabilities behind the camera."
CHOPPED: The presentation behind and in front of the camera is just as important. Stephen Letnes, a blind film composer, says: "Disability does not mean incompetence. There are examples of people with disabilities who make a living in the toughest industry in the world."
7) MYTH: "Disability doesn't make money"
CHOPPED: US consumers have a potential purchasing power of $ 10 billion per month for stories that authentically present characters with disabilities – especially through the casting of disabled actors. In addition, half of viewers are more likely to sign up for content distributors who want more accurate representation of disabled characters. The disability market is worth more than $ 1 trillion. The success of films like Black Panther, Wonder Woman and Coco proves that diversity wins. According to Nielsen Research, consumers with disabilities represent a $ 1 billion market segment. If you include their families, friends, and co-workers, that adds up to more than $ 1 trillion.
At the end of the day, the truth sells, so there is no need to just tick boxes, seize the opportunity of diversity with authenticity and integrity.
About Keely Cat-Wells
Keely Cat-Wells is an entrepreneur and disability activist committed to social, systematic, and economic change. Keely is the founder / CEO of C Talent, Zetta Studios and Zetta Finance. Keely also sits on Equity UK's d / Deaf & Disabled committee.
"I believe in order to change the world we have to learn to tell and hear new stories about the world we want to create."