Do Studios Discriminate Against Disabled Actors?

A recent study conducted by the Ruderman Family Foundation suggests disabled actors face hiring discrimination in the television industry. Data from the study shows only 2 percent of actors who appear on television have disabilities.

You might be wondering how actors with disabilities could play the parts of able-bodied characters on television shows and in movies, but hear us out. In most cases, actors with disabilities are turned down to play roles involving disabled characters.

According to The Ruderman White Paper: Employment of Actors with Disabilities in Television, less than 1 percent of fictional characters on television shows are disabled. However, 95 percent of those roles are filled by able-bodied actors! Instead of hiring actors with disabilities to perform these roles, studios spend a fortune on CGI, props and trainers to help able-bodied actors create an illusion of being disabled.

If we consider that 18.7 percent of Americans are living with disabilities, the numbers uncovered by the Ruderman Family Foundation are unacceptable. Watching television is one of the most popular American pastimes. The Ruderman Family Foundation study cites data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, showing that Americans over the age of 15 spend 2.8 hours per day watching television. Tens of millions of Americans are massively underrepresented in the television industry.

Legal Protections and Workplace Disability Discrimination

Unfortunately, workplace disability discrimination extends beyond film and television. We have covered on prior blogs how an unacceptable number of disabled Americans are unemployed despite being qualified for jobs. When job applicants or workers are capable of performing jobs with or without reasonable accommodations, and without putting an undue hardship on their employers, they may have legal protections against workplace discrimination.

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