Call for all film and TV productions to have disability champions

Actor, and NTA Winner James Moore has joined his Agent, Charlotte Armitage in calling for all TV and Film productions to have a disability champion as part of their team.

Following a panel event hosted by BBC Radio Leeds and the Yorkshire Academy of Film and Television Acting on Disability in the Media, there was agreement that although strides had been made to have a fairer representation of disabled people on screen, there are still significant issues around understanding needs, quota filling, naivety, logistics and stereotyping.

James, who is currently starring in Emmerdale as Ryan Stocks, 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.”

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.”

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.”

Hosted by disability campaigner and Producer and Presenter, Kate Monaghan, the panel was joined by the BBC’s Head of Diversity and Inclusion, Miranda Wayland who said the broadcaster are looking for a 12% target in disability inclusion and diversity.

Senior Journalist and BBC Producer Shahid Hussain said: “Producing an event like this was really important to have uninterrupted conversation on a subject that doesn’t get enough time and space. It was great to hear the experiences of our audience and its events like this that keep the industry evolving when it comes to disability representation.”

The event was commended by the audience for positively promoting the need for authentic voices and representation on screen and raising key questions on the role writers, producers, production houses, and educators play in actively engaging those with a disability and ensuring them that the world of film and tv is one where they belong.