There have long been calls for more diversity in Hollywood casting, but Olivia Spencer is reminding that people with disabilities also need to be represented onscreen.
Coinciding with the 30th anniversary of the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the actress is spreading the message in a new PSA urging the casting of those with disabilities.
“Can you remember the first time you saw yourself onscreen?” she asks at the beginning of the PSA. “I don’t mean literally you, yourself, but someone who looked like you.”
For Spencer, that moment came when she watched the Norman Lear-produced sitcom “Good Times”, featuring a Black family living in a Chicago public housing project.
“I was so taken by that experience,” she admitted.
In the PSA, Spencer discusses the importance of reflecting a diverse range of life experiences onscreen.
“Nothing can replace lived experience and authentic representation,” she added.
“That’s why it’s imperative that we cast the appropriate actor for the appropriate role, and that means people with disabilities as well,” she said.
Underlining Hollywood’s track record of casting able-bodied actors to play disabled characters when a disabled actor would be a more fitting choice, she explained those type of casting choices are “offensive, unjust and deprives an entire community of people from opportunities.”
She concluded: “There is no reason we should continue to repeat the same mistakes of the past. Together, we should and can do better.”