NBCUniversal Commits To Audition Actors With Disabilities
A second major entertainment company is pledging to consider actors with disabilities for every one of its film and television projects.
NBCUniversal said it has signed a pledge from the Ruderman Family Foundation that calls on Hollywood studios, networks and production companies to audition actors with disabilities for each new production they bring to series.
“NBCUniversal remains committed to creating content that authentically reflects the world we live in and increasing opportunities for those with disabilities is an integral part of that,” said Janine Jones-Clark, an executive vice president at the company who works on inclusion across television, film and streaming. “We are proud to join the Ruderman Family Foundation pledge as calls to action like theirs are important and hold the industry accountable of the work we still need to do in order to see systemic change.”
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The move by NBCUniversal comes after CBS signed the Ruderman pledge in 2019. Neither company is required to hire actors with disabilities under the agreement, but advocates say that making a concerted effort to audition such talent is a step in the right direction.
“The Ruderman Family Foundation is thrilled to see NBCUniversal commit to our guidelines and dedicate themselves further to casting people with disabilities in their productions,” said Jay Ruderman, president of the Ruderman Family Foundation. “By having such an influential entity like NBCUniversal take this bold stand, we hope to continue to see others join us in striving to create more opportunities for people with disabilities in entertainment.”
A report out earlier this year found that 3.5% of regularly-appearing characters on scripted broadcast television series this season have disabilities, a record high. But, the figure falls far short of reflecting the number of people with disabilities in the American population.
The Ruderman Family Foundation noted that just 22% of characters with disabilities on television are played by actors with disabilities themselves.
Aside from CBS and NBCUniversal, a host of Hollywood A-listers including George Clooney, Joaquin Phoenix, Ed Norton, Bryan Cranston, Mark Ruffalo, Glenn Close, Eva Longoria and Peter Farrelly have signed the Ruderman Family Foundation’s pledge pushing for more opportunities for people with disabilities in the entertainment industry.