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Leicestershire Centre for Integrated Living

BBC initiative for disabled actors is a ‘wake-up call’ for producers

Date: 10/8/2017
Summary: Disabled actors are being invited to submit audition tapes to the BBC as part of an initiative intended to improve on-screen representation of people with disabilities.

The broadcaster’s new development programme aims to support and raise the profile of disabled actors and to act as a “wake-up call” to producers to make a greater effort to feature people with disabilities in their shows.

New BBC targets mean that eight per cent all people on screen should be disabled by 2020.  Behind the scenes, eight per cent of all BBC staff and eight per cent of people in leadership roles should have disabilities too.

From the audition tapes, up to 30 actors will be chosen to take part in an intensive three-day workshop, called Class Act: A Nationwide Search And Skill Factory, with industry professionals. Successful applicants will be tutored in audition and camera technique, acting and business skills, and script and character work. They will also work with directors on scenes for their showreels.

“On-screen portrayal of disability is increasing on the BBC but disabled actors are still struggling to find a place – especially in roles not written specifically as disabled,” said Alison Walsh, the BBC’s disability lead. “Although this scheme doesn’t guarantee work, it will provide training opportunities and exposure for new talent as well as established actors who have yet to have their ‘big break’,” she said.

“Crucially, it will provide a wake-up call to drama creators that they need to work harder to consider disabled acting talent for all productions – not just those with a disability theme,” Ms Walsh added. Not only does the initiative have the potential to create more opportunities for disabled actors, those who go on to enjoy success in their field could serve as role models for other people, with or without disabilities.

“I think this is a step in the right direction,” said Vijay Patel, who has a learning disability and works at the charity Mencap. “For a lot of people with a disability, like me, we don’t get to see many role models who have a disability on TV. “There are lots of talented disabled actors and creating more opportunities for them will help the public understand and feel more comfortable around all forms of disability.”

Source: i News

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