‘Speechless’ Creator Urges Casting Of Actors With Disabilities
The creator of a prime-time comedy starring a teen with cerebral palsy is pushing other Hollywood bigwigs to cast more actors with disabilities, calling barriers to such inclusion “false.”
Scott Silveri, the creator and executive producer of ABC’s “Speechless,” said that having a cast member with a disability on his show has been nothing but positive.
“The number of Americans with disabilities is a lot and the number of people on TV with disabilities is not a lot and the number of those people portrayed by actual performers with disabilities is like next to none,” Silveri said. “For those of us … with a say in who gets on TV and who doesn’t, I simply ask you to recognize that a part of our responsibility in what we do is to represent society as a whole and you can’t do that without representing disabilities.”
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The comments came during the Television Academy Honors earlier this month. “Speechless” was one of six shows lauded at the event put on by the people behind the Emmy Awards recognizing “programing that explores and confronts significant issues facing our society in a compelling and impactful way.”
“Speechless” is based on Silveri’s experience growing up with a brother with a disability. The family comedy stars Micah Fowler, who has cerebral palsy, as JJ DiMeo, a teen with the condition who is nonverbal.
Silveri acknowledged that despite his personal experience he has not always done his part to include people with disabilities on screen.
“For the 20 years I was doing this before, the number of people I cast with disabilities was a whopping zero and I should know better,” Silveri said. “But I’m here to share from my very positive and fortunate first-hand experience that the barriers to casting those with disabilities are false and imagined and the rewards are great. There is a real appetite for their stories.”