CBS Pledges To Make Casting More Inclusive
In a first, a major network is committing to audition actors with disabilities, paving the way for a more inclusive slate of characters on television.
CBS said this month that it signed a pledge from the Ruderman Family Foundation asking Hollywood studios, networks and production companies to audition actors with disabilities for each new production they bring to series.
“We understand that increasing auditions, no matter the size of the role, is a critical step toward achieving inclusion in the industry,” the pledge reads. “This studio pledges to increase the number of actors and actresses with disabilities who audition for parts in television and film.”
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CBS is the first Hollywood company to sign the commitment, the Ruderman Family Foundation said.
“We take pride in our commitment to cast and hire people with disabilities in our productions,” said Tiffany Smith-Anoa’i, executive vice president of diversity, inclusion and communications for CBS Entertainment. “We salute the Ruderman Family Foundation for advocating for this very achievable and important goal.”
CBS includes the CBS Television Network, CBS Television Studios and CBS All Access streaming service, among other properties.
There were a record number of characters with disabilities on prime-time network shows during the 2018-2019 season, according to a report out last fall. But, with only 18 characters, advocates say there is a long way to go to accurately reflect the reality of millions of Americans with disabilities.
Moreover, the Ruderman Family Foundation said that 95 percent of characters with disabilities are currently played by typically-developing actors.
“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,” said Jay Ruderman president of the foundation, which advocates for disability inclusion. “Enhanced visibility of disability on screen will help reduce stigmas people with disabilities face in everyday life.”
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