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Amy Poehler leads calls for Hollywood to take action over disability inclusion

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A number of actors including Amy Poehler and Naomie Harris, have signed an open letter calling for an end to prejudice and discrimination towards disabled talent in Hollywood.

The letter claims there’s an “urgent need to act on disability inclusion” and urges major studios to appoint permanent disability officers.

It goes on to say the number of disabled characters on screen “continues to severely under-represent the actual US population living with disabilities”.

The letter added: “Due to years of misrepresentation in the media, social barriers, and chronic ableism, the deaf, hard of hearing, neurodiverse and disabled communities continue to be underrepresented and disrespected in the entertainment industry.”

The Dolby Theatre in Hollywood Credit: Getty

The letter and the #DontDismissDis campaign was organised by agent Keely Cat-Wells, who claims she lost a job because of her disability when she was an actress.

Covid-19 made productions recruit Covid officers and specialists to keep cast and crew members safe so they could keep accessing work, in order to save as many jobs as possible,” she said.

“The disabled community have faced threats, lost jobs and dealt with a lack of access long before Covid-19, and unlike this situation, there has been no drastic steps to provide security.”

James Bond actress Harris, who is among the letter’s signatories, told the BBC: “If you show the injustice of the system and say, ‘Look, here’s a way forward’, it makes it more difficult for people to ignore.”

A recent report found that 3.5 per cent of TV series regular characters were disabled in 2020. A separate study put the number of disabled characters at 12 per cent in 2018 – but found that most of the portrayals were negative.

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Date: 8 April 2021
Author: Damian Jones

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