Disability in Hollywood

04 August 2021
Dealing with disability in an ableist industry.
Run 2

Recently on our timeline, we celebrated Hollywoodโ€™s gradual casting of people living with disabilities into roles whose characters are disabled.

Despite being as proficient as others, actors living with disabilities have not only had to contend with their health issues but also an industry that is chastised for unfair casting, even in matters such as and race.

It has been said and noted that if an actor wants to win an Oscar, they should play a character with a disability and, this clichรฉ has some truth to it. Sixty-one actors have been nominated for awards after portraying disabled characters, and 27 of them have successfully won awards and recognition for those characters.

While one doesnโ€™t need to be disabled to portray a character with disabilities, in an industry with many brilliant actors living with disabilities, casting needs to be fair.

Here are some shows who have characters with disabilities, portrayed by actors living with disabilities themselves:


A comedy series that tells the story of Ryan, a 28-year-old gay man with cerebral palsy.ย Ryan is portrayed by actorย Ryan Oโ€™Connell,ย who is also gay and has cerebral palsy. He has written and executively produced the series.

Stranger Things

In this show, one of the teenage boys, Dustin, is played byย Gaten Matarazzo, who has a rare genetic condition calledย cleidocranial dysplasiaย (CCD), which affects teeth and bones, such as the skull, face, spine, collarbones and legs.

Feel The Beat

When April fails to find success on Broadway, she returns to her hometown and starts training a group of young dancers. One of the dancers is a deaf young girl called Zuzu. She proves to April that deaf people can dance by feeling the vibrations of the music.

Zuzu is played by a deaf actress, Shaylee Mansfield.

One more time, we raise one in the air for fair representation!


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