Casting Able-Bodied Actors In Disabled Roles Is ‘Offensive’ And ‘Unjust,’ Octavia Spencer Says

Actress Octavia Spencer called on the entertainment industry to stop casting able-bodied actors in the roles of characters with disabilities.
In a two-and-a-half-minute video for the Ruderman Family Foundation, a group that advocates for people with disabilities, Spencer called for “authentic onscreen representation” for disabled people, likening it to when women began to portray female characters onstage in the 17th century.
“Did you know that women weren’t allowed to perform in theaters until 1660?” Spencer said. “All characters, whether male or female, were portrayed by men before then. It’s only been a few decades since white actors would portray black, Asian, and even Native American characters on the screen.”
“All of these communities of people had to endure not only their stories being told inauthentically, but also seeing themselves portrayed inauthentically,” Spencer continued. “But nothing can replace lived experience and authentic representation. That’s why it’s imperative that we cast the appropriate actor for the appropriate role. And that means people with disabilities, as well.”
“Casting able-bodied actors in roles for characters with disabilities is offensive, unjust, and deprives an entire community of people from opportunities,” Spencer went on, adding, “There is no reason that we should continue to repeat the same mistakes of the past. Together, we should and can do better.”

The Ruderman Family Foundation is a Boston-based organization that, according to their website, “believes that inclusion and understanding of all people is essential to a fair and flourishing community. Guided by our Jewish values, we advocate for and advance the inclusion of people with disabilities throughout our society; strengthen the relationship between Israel and the American Jewish Community; and model the practice of strategic philanthropy worldwide. We operate as a non-partisan strategic catalyst in cooperation with government, private sectors, civil society, and philanthropies.”
The foundation has complained before about able-bodied actors portraying characters with disabilities, such as when Alec Baldwin played a blind novelist in the 2016 movie “Blind.” When Bryan Cranston played a quadriplegic in the 2018 film “The Upside,” foundation president Jay Ruderman said, “While we don’t know the auditioning history of ‘The Upside,’ casting a non-disabled actor to play a character with a disability is highly problematic and deprives performers with disabilities the chance to work and gain exposure.”
“Non-disabled actors are routinely cast to play characters with disabilities, while actors with disabilities are rarely even auditioned for minor parts. This practice amounts to discrimination and we are working with Hollywood advocates to change that,” he added.
“The Upside” director responded at the time, saying, “It is a really interesting question, does an able-bodied actor have the right to play a person with a disability? And there’s arguments on both sides of it. All I know is that we did an incredible amount of research and went at it with as much respect and honesty that we could – and certainly Bryan Cranston did – and our goal is to shed light and be compassionate and be respectful to those communities.”
Casting Able-Bodied Actors In Disabled Roles Is ‘Offensive’ And ‘Unjust,’ Octavia Spencer Says Casting Able-Bodied Actors In Disabled Roles Is ‘Offensive’ And ‘Unjust,’ Octavia Spencer Says Reviewed by STATION GOSSIP on 10:33 Rating: 5

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