The advent of #MeToo and #TimesUp and worldwide awareness of harassment and discrimination, particularly in the entertainment industry, has hit a lot of headlines recently. In the BBC’s comedy short Leading Lady Parts, several actresses try out for a ‘leading lady part’ only to face discrimination, whether that’s due to sexism and racism. The comedy short lampoons bigotry and will feel very familiar to a lot of people. Unfortunately, it leaves out disability.
When it comes to media representation, disability lags behind. While there are over 13 million disabled people in the UK, disabled people make up less than six per cent of the media. Representation matters, both on and offscreen. Being underrepresented leads to discrimination and a general lack of awareness – it also affects people growing up who can’t see anyone in the media that represents them.
Actor and activist Samantha Renke watched the short and immediately picked up on the lack of disabled actors. “I sat and wondered why the disabled community hadn’t been included? Are we as a society still so awkward and uncomfortable around disability that we would rather exclude a minority group than risk insulting them or ‘putting a foot in it,’ so to speak?” she wrote.
An additional issue is that here is still a problem with disabled actors being missed over for disabled roles in film and TV. When a character is written with a disability, a non-disabled actor often takes the job.
Let’s hope the next short includes everyone.
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