CBS has signed a pledge to include more disabled actors in their scripted television and film auditions, which aims to increase the number of actors with disabilities in the industry, and is the first media company to do so, according to the Ruderman Family Foundation.
The Ruderman Family Foundation is an organization that advocates for more inclusion for people with disabilities.
“The Ruderman Family Foundation commends CBS for its leadership in becoming the first major media company to pledge to audition actors with disabilities for roles in their productions,” Foundation president Jay Ruderman said in a statement. “It is our hope that other major media companies will follow their lead and foster opportunities that will lead to more authentic representation of people with disabilities in popular entertainment. Enhanced visibility of disability on screen will help reduce stigmas people with disabilities face in everyday life.
The foundation said that CBS’ “NCIS: New Orleans” was one of four series that got the foundation’s seal of authentic representation earlier this year for casting Daryl Mitchell in the role of agent Patton Plame. The 53-year-old actor was paralyzed from the waist down in 2001.
In a 2018 study, the USC Annenberg Initiative found that 2.5% of speaking characters in films in 2017 had a disability. According to the Ruderman Family Foundation, 95% of characters with disabilities on television are played by able-bodied actors.
“We take pride in our commitment to cast and hire people with disabilities in our productions,” CBS Entertainment EVP, Diversity, Inclusion & Communications Tiffany Smith-Anoa’i said in a statement. “We salute the Ruderman Family Foundation for advocating for this very achievable and important goal.”