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14 Times Movies & TV Shows Cast Actors With Disabilities to Play Disabled Roles

Niamh Ní Hoireabhaird

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Hollywood is moving past its dark past of hiring white actors to play POC characters but it is still commonplace to hire non-disabled actors to play disabled characters. Able-bodied actors feigning disability is distasteful but, unfortunately, the norm. There are hundreds (maybe thousands, maybe even millions) of actors with disabilities but they are often underestimated and overlooked in favor of their able-bodied colleagues. It is not very often when movies or shows have a main character with disabilities but it is even less often that these characters are actually played by actors with disabilities — so, we wanted to highlight movies and TV shows like Sex Education, The Peanut Butter Falcon, and Game of Thrones that did cast actors with disabilities in those roles.

Disabled people are deeply underrepresented throughout the entire entertainment industry — in front of and behind the camera. The limited opportunities available for disabled people being taken by able-bodied people causes a lack of visibility. Visibility and representation are key issues for raising awareness about those with disabilities and showing how common disabilities are in our society, and seeing only able-bodied people on-screen actively harms that cause.

Here are some movies and TV shows — new and old —  that star disabled actors. The list is not extensive but it reflects an obvious change in the entertainment industry within the past few years as disabled actors are being hired to play big roles — read on to see the disabled actors leading the charge.

A version of this article was originally published on Nov 2021. 

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