A Leeds Talent Agency is celebrating the news one of its actors is the star of an Oscar winning film following last night’s Hollywood ceremony and declared it a huge moment for disability recognition in the industry.
Actor James Martin, who has Down Syndrome is represented by the YAFTA Talent Agency and is the star of An Irish Goodbye, who won the Oscar in the Live Action Short Film category.
This is the third time the YAFTA Talent Agency has celebrated three history defining moments with three of its actors with disabilities:
James Martin is the first actor with Downs Syndrome to star in an Oscar winning film; James Moore became the first actor with Cerebral Palsy to win an NTA for Best Newcomer in his role as Ryan Stocks in Emmerdale; and James Bairstow was the first actor with Downs Syndrome to be cast in Coronation Street.
Charlotte Armitage, founder and managing director of the Yorkshire based agency said: “We are so delighted for James and the rest of the team behind An Irish Goodbye – to win an Oscar is the ultimate accolade in the screen industry. With the whole world watching, it’s an amazing opportunity to showcase the talent of actors with disabilities and this win hopefully indicates a movement towards fairer representation on screen internationally.”
Charlotte has been a passionate advocate for better representation and treatment of actors with disabilities in the film and TV industry over recent years, including hosting an event with the BBC and calling for all production companies to have a disability ambassador.
Charlotte adds: “I created YAFTA 10 years ago because there was so little opportunity in the north for quality training in the film and TV sector. YAFTA Talent Agency was launched with a focus on being an inclusive agency. Being mixed race and growing up with a sibling with disabilities, I set out to create an agency that would represent actors from minority backgrounds and challenge stereotypes and archaic ways of working. The UK has made great strides over recent years and in many ways has led the way, including introducing things like online auditions so actors with disabilities don’t have to struggle to get to auditions, but there is still lots to do, especially internationally. Having inspirational actors like James featuring in Oscar winning productions is a brilliant example of what can be achieved.”
To add to the celebrations, the ceremony took place on James’s birthday and the whole auditorium joined in a rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’ to the actor as he stood on stage to collect the award with the directors, Ross White and Tom Berkeley.
An Irish Goodbye was nominated alongside Night Ride, The Red Suitcase, Le Pupille and Ivalu.