“Breaking Bad” star RJ Mitte has a message for Hollywood: cast disabled characters with disabled actors.
Mitte stated in an interview with the Irish Examiner on Wednesday that there isn’t enough exposure for disabled actors in the film and TV industry. The American actor, who himself is diagnosed with cerebral palsy, believes that disabled figures in the media should receive as much screen time as able-bodied actors.
“We know lots of progress is being made but the industry must do more to help disabled people work both in front of and behind the camera,” Mitte said in the interview. “During the Paralympics there will be more disabled people than ever before on TV but this shouldn’t be something that just happens every four years.”
Mitte was cast in “Breaking Bad” in 2008 as Walter White, Jr., who also lives with cerebral palsy. Mitte, who will also co-host the 2016 Paralympic Games in September, revealed that he used personal experiences with his disability to relate to his character.
“I wouldn’t be in the position I am in today without my disability,” said Mitte. “I utilized everything I know about living with cerebral palsy for my role in ‘Breaking Bad.'”
Negative reactions have been circulating in the media regarding raising awareness through erasure. For example, it was reported that 95% of actors who play disabled characters are able-bodied actors. In addition, Vogue Brazil recently featured a controversial ad campaign to promote the 2016 Paralympics Games, photo-shopping able-bodied athletes to appear with lost or artificial limbs. Mitte hopes that one day, disabled actors will be seen as equals in the media.
“I would love to switch on my TV and see a disabled person talking about something they are genuinely interested in or acting out a part that doesn’t just focus on their impairment,” Mitte said.
The 2016 Paralympic Games will air Sept. 7-18 on NBC.