I have advocated for disability inclusion in the media since the 1980s specifically for television in various capacities from behind the scenes to on-air staff, and within dramatic series – in every facet of production, especially casts.
It's still virtually non-existent to see visibly disabled news or current affairs broadcasters. In the 34 years since I was forced to retire, I have, however, been pleased to see more shows and streamed dramatic program series that include characters with disabilities such as HOUSE, and THE GOOD DOCTOR. But they have abled-bodied actors portraying disabled characters. Dr. Gregory House in the series HOUSE is disabled and uses a cane. The role is played by Hugh Laurie who is not disabled and does not use a cane. THE GOOD DOCTOR has its principal autistic character, Dr. Shaun Murphy, portrayed by Freddie Highmore who doesn’t have autism. Shows usually have able-bodied actors portraying disabled characters. It's reminiscent of the days when black people were portrayed by white actors with painted faces.
BREAKING BAD was an example where an actor with cerebral palsy (R.J. Mitte) played a character with cerebral palsy. It’s rare to have that.
MOVIES: Secular movies have numerous films about disabilities portrayed by people without disabilities, dating back to RAIN MAN where Dustin Hoffman played a character with autism.
THE PEANUT BUTTER FALCON was about a character with Down Syndrome and portrayed by an actor with Down syndrome (Zack Gottsagen). The movie was the highest-grossing independent film of 2019!
[Nb: It’s divinely ironic to note that a highly successful Oscar award-winning disabled actor has spent his career portraying able-bodied people. Sir Anthony Hopkins has Asperger’s.]
Christian movies about disability using actors with disabilities are rare. Two that readily come to mind are TOUCHED BY GRACE (2014) and JONI (1979).
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