NTA winning actor James Moore and his agent Charlotte Armitage are calling for all TV and film productions to have a disability champion on their team.
At a panel event hosted by BBC Radio Leeds and the Yorkshire Academy of Film and Television Acting on Disability in the Media, it was acknowledged that despite efforts to fairly represent disabled people on screen, there are still major issues around understanding needs, quota filling, logistics and stereotyping.
Moore, who currently plays Ryan Stocks in Emmerdale, said: “By having someone who is either disabled themselves or who has knowledge and training in working with people with disabilities as part of a production team, it could really help in tackling the issues around authentic disabled representation“.
He has a condition called Ataxic Cerebral Palsy and is passionate about raising awareness for people with disabilities, and uses Twitter to help his followers understand the day-to-day struggles that come with being disabled.
Charlotte Armitage, who was recently named the Institute of Director’s Director of Inclusivity in this year’s Yorkshire and North East Awards, agreed:
“When you get a casting request that asks simply for a ‘disabled actor’ with no details on what disability – physical or learning, and a casting director asks why a disabled actor needs a support worker to get to an audition when everybody else manages without one, you know there is still work to be done to ensure that film and TV productions are representing and engaging disabled people fairly”.
Hosted by disability campaigner and presenter Kate Monaghan, the panel was joined by the BBC’s Head of Diversity and Inclusion, Miranda Wayland who said they are aiming for a 12% target in disability inclusion and diversity.
The panel also included RTS winning screenwriter and director, Charlie Swinbourne who added: “It’s great people within the industry are engaging in more diverse representation, both in front and behind the camera, but we need to ensure it is authentic diversity, and not just a box ticking exercise”.
The event can be listened to on BBC Radio Leeds Backstage show at 8pm Today, July 10 or on the BBC Sounds app.