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SAG, AFTRA aid disabled actors

Unions mount joint initiative for 'PWD'

SAG, AFTRA and Actors Equity Assn. are mounting a joint initiative to push for expanded job opportunities for disabled actors.

The unions are teaming on “I Am PWD” (people with disabilities), a public education campaign to raise awareness among decisionmakers of the fact that few roles are available for thesps with disabilities.

Campaign was unveiled Monday morning at a news conference at SAG’s Miracle Mile HQ; similar media events were held Monday in Gotham and Washington, D.C.

SAG prexy Alan Rosenberg said that while 20% of the U.S. population has some form of disability, disabled actors have landed fewer than 2% of the speaking roles in television in recent years.

The “I Am PWD” campaign will involve outreach to writers and network and studio execs to encourage them to incorporate more disabled characters into their productions.

Joining Rosenberg at the news conference were a number of prominent disabled thesps, including Geri Jewell, Linda Bove and Robert David Hall, national chair of the “PWD” campaign and a regular on “CSI.”

Hall was blunt about the need for increased access throughout the industry for disabled thesps, who sometimes face physical barriers just getting to auditions.

“Give us auditions so we may be able to grant ourselves jobs,” Hall said.

The campaign bows today on the unions’ Websites, but outreach and PR efforts will formally begin in January.

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