Micah Fowler, who first appeared in the 2013 movie “Labor Day,” stars in ABC’s “Speechless,” a comedy about a young man with special needs and the way his family members relate to one another and the outside world. Fowler, who has cerebral palsy, was cast in the series based on his audition tape.
You’ve given voice to a huge demographic. Was that a factor in pursuing acting?
I pursued acting because I really enjoy it. I never imagined the response the role would generate and how my portrayal could impact lives. But wow, has it ever been amazing, both from the able-bodied community and from the special needs community. The hundreds of messages I’ve gotten on social media mentioning how this show has changed lives has been astonishing. It’s renewed dreams and given hope to people navigating life with a disability and given new perspective to those not directly affected with a disability. I’m humbled to find myself in this place.
Why do studios cast able-bodied actors to play disabled characters?
The Ruderman [Family] Foundation just did a study and found that 98 percent of disabled roles in film and television are portrayed by able-bodied actors. I think they’re cast because of misconceptions. Many people tend to generalize the functioning levels and capabilities of people with disabilities. There’s a fear of not knowing what to expect. There’s a lack of characters living with disabilities written into scripts, and therefore fewer roles to play. There’s also a lack of handicap-accessible access to auditioning rooms. All of this leads to a lack of auditioning opportunities and casting. I look forward to the day when going to the disabled community of actors first to fulfill those roles is the norm and not the exception.
What are your dream roles?
Things you didn’t know about Micah Fowler
AGE: 19 HOMETOWN: Barnegat Township, N.J. FAVORITE SPORT: Sled hockey FAVORITE MUSIC GENRE: EDM FAVORITE APP: YouTube