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To think (professional) able bodied actors shouldn't be given roles of characters with disabilities

(150 Posts)
manicinsomniac Sat 10-Feb-18 23:01:04

Or not unless no disabled actor is available who can play the role (as might be the case with a severe disability or amateur acting).

This video:
has been doing the rounds among my thespian type friends on facebook and I think it makes a lot of sense.
(in summary it says that 20% of people are disabled but only 2% of characters on tv have disabilities and 95% of those roles go to able bodied actors leaving very few opportunities for disabled actors. It compares old practices of casting white actors to play black characters and says that able bodied actors playing disabled characters should be equally avoided nowadays).

It's getting a lot of positive attention but some people are saying that there's no point in acting if we only get to play characters like ourselves and that some actors have given brilliant portrayals of disabled characters (Leo di Caprio in What's Eating Gilbert Grape comes up a lot).

I do agree with that point but I think there are enough challenging roles out there for talented able bodied actors without taking the few roles available to disabled actors. I don't think they should be allowed to have the roles unless the casting director/director has tried and failed to cast a suitable disabled actor. AIBU?

AjasLipstick Sat 10-Feb-18 23:06:36

It doesn't matter how brilliant Leonardo was. I'm sure that there have been some amazing performances of Othello given by white men in black face....doesn't make it right.

Actors with disabilities should get first call.

KatyMac Sat 10-Feb-18 23:07:41

I kind of agree but there needs to be stuff put into place so that disabled people can access acting courses and training, in the same way that only recently black children have been able to access acting training - and most colleges are still 90% white

I love the idea that "casting white actors to play black characters" is old practise - it isn't - it's appalling but it is happening (West End Aladdin Auditions on Monday next week)

BestZebbie Sat 10-Feb-18 23:12:44

I agree, but I think what would be much better is casting more disabled actors just in 'roles' - any old role, because anyone can be disabled. More shows where the lead/love interest etc is also disabled and it isn't the single Thing which the entire show revolves around.

manicinsomniac Sat 10-Feb-18 23:13:47

Ajas - This isn't really relevant but, seeing as you've mentioned blacking up to play Othello, I remember being shown Olivier's version of Othello at school and not recognising him. As an arrogant 16 year old watching a performance done in a very stylised, 1960s fashion on a small tv screen, I came out with 'I don't think that actor's very good; he's way over the top and his teeth are too white.' My poor English teacher looked completely nonplussed and stuttered out, 'but ...but... it's Lawrence Olivier!!' I kind of still stand by it though - blacked up, writhing on the floor and with day glow teeth he just came across as ... weird.

KatyMac Sat 10-Feb-18 23:14:34

That would be good BestZebbie

CaoNiMa Sat 10-Feb-18 23:16:23

Maybe they identify as trans-abled 😑

manicinsomniac Sat 10-Feb-18 23:17:30

I also agree with that BestZebbie but think that this particular issue has come up around characters that are 'supposed' to be disabled as a part of their role rather than an actor cast in a random role just happening to be disabled. I think there should be much more of the latter but that more effort should be made to specifically seek out disabled actors for the former group of characters.

Primarkismyonlyoption Sat 10-Feb-18 23:19:03

I think that the main thing to consider is the context of the character. So many soaps today have the token disabled character, then the muslim family, black family, lesbian or gay. I think this is very false, even if a disabled person is in the role.
I think that there need to be leads for disabled kids to look up to. Not just a wheelchair user in the background, but someone who is a hero, overcoming barriers to achieve.
The mental health one is also textbook. They all have bipolar (I have it-it's hell. Hate how it's so popular, and used for anyone with a bit of a mood swing to justify their moods. It's more than that. It's nearly killed me. It is very disabling and I am insulted by some tv representations although EastEnders Stacey was fabulous.)
However, the theory of everything actor was outstanding and had an actor with the same condition been cast, the progression of the disease and how this was acted would be impossible. So yes I support your point but it is highly dependent on context.
For children, whilst Mr Tumble is fab, the representation of any kid with disability in other kids programmes is dire.

MimpiDreams Sat 10-Feb-18 23:20:49

Dustin Hoffman in Rainman gives me rage. I'm sick of hearing how I can't be autistic because I'm nothing like Rainman. The guy he modelled his character on didn't even have autism but was apparently considered a better example of 'autistic' than an actual autistic person. Lots of autistic actors around who could have done it.

TheCatsPaws Sat 10-Feb-18 23:21:19

Sort of. Actors with disabilities should get the first choice, but if there’s no one available who is good or who fits the criteria then I have no issue with able bodied actors doing it.

Antigonads Sat 10-Feb-18 23:21:43

This is what I don't get.

Can no one but a black male play Othello?

TheCatsPaws Sat 10-Feb-18 23:23:02

Yes. Othello is black.

KatyMac Sat 10-Feb-18 23:23:17

Thinking about The Greatest Showman, apart from 'Tom Thumb' none of the other actors where the 'same' as their characters

I am assuming 'Acrodysplasia' is a disability - I'm not sure what additional problems the actor Sam Humpreys has apart from Crohns

manicinsomniac Sat 10-Feb-18 23:23:28

KatyMac - that's a good point about access to training etc - for both disabled and ethnic minority actors. I'm not sure 90% white is a problem though, is it? Sounds about right. 88% of the population is white (I think) so, on the surface at least, there seems to be fairly equal access opportunity there. Or do you think there's more complex stuff going on than pure stats?

Antigonads Sat 10-Feb-18 23:25:50

But I've seen a female play Hamlet.

And a black man play Hamlet.

So how does that work then?

KatyMac Sat 10-Feb-18 23:27:08

There was an imagining of Othello where everyone one was black and Othello white but yes the colour is a part of the play

And Tracy Turnblad can't be black but little Inez has to be - but in Les Mis (for example) no-one needs to be black or white per se

manicinsomniac Sat 10-Feb-18 23:27:58

Sort of. Actors with disabilities should get the first choice, but if there’s no one available who is good or who fits the criteria then I have no issue with able bodied actors doing it

Yes, sorry Catspaw, that's exactly what I meant. Sorry if I didn't put it very clearly. Your summary is much more succint! I think in the majority of cases, there would be a suitable and talented disabled actor though.

And yes, Antigonads I definitely think that only a black male should play Othello. Ever. (unless it was some kind of wildly experimental version where Othello is white and all the other characters are black - which I think has been done.)

KatyMac Sat 10-Feb-18 23:28:12

Very complex out of 80 girls in DD's year 3 are non-white or BAME (I think)

& only one of them was put forward to the Aladdin auditions alongside white girls

Lucked Sat 10-Feb-18 23:28:24

This was discussed on the last leg last night because I believe The Rock is to play an amputee. The opinion was that because he is such a huge star it will have a positive impact both on kids who have a disability and on the general public because a huge audience will see it and it will help normalise disability.

KatyMac Sat 10-Feb-18 23:29:17

I imagine the Lloyd Webber report (from before Christmas) can be used as a starting place for disabled actors despite it being about race

manicinsomniac Sat 10-Feb-18 23:30:19

Hamlet can be black his race can be ignored (it isn't a part of the plot so it's not that relevant). He could only be female if the director was deliberately reinterpreting the story or the woman was dressing up as a man.

Anasnake Sat 10-Feb-18 23:30:46

Daniel Day Lewis in My Left Foot ?
Eddie Redmayne as Stephen Hawking ?

Samcro Sat 10-Feb-18 23:31:16

I hate that you think YAY a disabled person acting....someone for your disabled child to look up too and then you find out they are not disabled.
its wrongPeople also ask
Is the wheelchair kid from Glee really disabled?
McHale starred in the musical dramedy series Glee as Artie Abrams, a member of the McKinley High glee club with a physical disability. Although his character was in a wheelchair, McHale is a skilled dancer and has said that it is hard to keep his feet from moving along with the music while on the set.21 Mar 2016

easy to goodle and find....why? why couldn't a disabled person do this......????????

KatyMac Sat 10-Feb-18 23:31:18

DD accessed a high quality dance class in London for a massively reduced rate because she was black (mixed actually but you know)

They reckon it's third generation immigrants that assimilate into mainstream culture - so with people with disablities I imagine there is a fair wait still

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