I am a big fan of TV and film. I love great acting and gripping plots.
But so many shows and films would be even greater if a character in it had a learning disability, and the actor who plays them has a learning disability too.
I know film makers or television series producers often want to choose famous faces to portray a character, but I would be more impressed if they took a chance on an actor with a learning disability. A character with a learning disability should be played by someone has a learning disability because then they would know what it’s like to live with the issues that people with learning disabilities face.
Plus, there are many talented actors and actresses out there with a learning disability such as Sarah Gordy. Sarah Gordy has starred in TV shows like Call the Midwife and Doctors and is also a Mencap Ambassador.
I would love to see more people with a disability represented in TV and film as it would benefit everyone to see that people with a disability are part of society.
In the past I have noticed that characters with a learning disability are often portrayed by big stars who have no experience of having a disability. For example, Forest Gump was about a guy with a learning disability living through the 50s and 60s and showed how the attitudes of others didn't help him. Tom Hanks played him well, but this would have been a great opportunity for an actor with a learning disability to show their talents to the world.
Over recent years things have improved and actors with a learning disability have had more opportunities. Last year a few shows and films, including Call the Midwife, Glee and My Feral Heart, have included actors and characters with a learning disability. But there aren't very many of these examples out there.
While things are getting better, there is more that needs to be done.
I would love to see more people with a disability represented in TV and film as it would benefit everyone to see that people with a disability are part of society. It would allow the general public to sympathise with the issues the character might face and the actor’s talents would hopefully bring joy to the audience. I think producers and directors should roll the dice and go for a very talented actor with a learning disability, with a good idea for a plot and a character, and enrich the experience of cinema-goers and TV viewers.
I remember the first time I saw people with a learning disability on television. It was in the 90s on a Saturday morning show and they were dancing to ‘The Music of the Night’ from Phantom of the Opera. Michael Crawford came and greeted them and I was really proud to see that. Since then, I have looked in TV and films for characters with a learning disability and there aren't very many. It feels like learning disability is something that is overlooked which makes me feel cross actually.
In the real world people with a learning disability are present, but this is rarely reflected on screen. It’s really not good.
There are some great television shows and films out there that I enjoy, but I believe Hollywood should give people with a learning disability a chance. They may shine, make the production good, and even win awards.