The growing number of industry notables who have signed the letter include Academy Award winners Marlee Matlin, Peter Farrelly and Chris Cooper, as well as Glenn Close, Danny DeVito, Bobby Farrelly, Glen Mazzara, Ali Stroker, Tony Shalhoub, Jason Alexander, Tim Bagley, Marianne Leone Cooper, Willie Garson, Sammi Haney, CJ Jones, Orlando Jones (who was recently fired from “American Gods”), Ruth Madeley, RJ Mitte, Steven Weber, Danny Woodburn and Kurt Yaeger. Another signer was Norman Lear, who pioneered hiring people with disabilities when he cast Geri Jewell as a recurring character on “Facts of Life” for the 1980-84 seasons.
The letter — circulated by the Ruderman Family Foundation — calls on the entertainment industry to “audition actors with disabilities” as well as “cast qualified performers with disabilities, thereby improving their visibility and expanding overall talent pools.” Read the full letter on the org’s website.
“Despite its immense potential for leadership in inclusion, social justice and civil rights, Hollywood has for far too long left disability out of the conversation about diversity,” Jay Ruderman, president of the Ruderman Family Foundation, said. “The courage of these initial signatories will undoubtedly serve to activate and inspire their peers in Hollywood. We call upon more actors and executives to add their names to this letter and make inclusion in the entertainment industry a priority.”
Ruderman thanked the signatories previously mentioned for “leveraging their influence and name recognition to effect real change in their industry by joining our call for a more authentic and inclusive casting landscape.”
This open letter is among a series of initiatives that foster great inclusion, a mission that has previously garnered support from notable personalities like Dwayne Johnson.
CBS became the first studio to sign the foundation’s pledge, with BBC recently announcing its commitment to the mission.
In 2019, the Foundation began certifying movies and shows with its seal of approval for authentic representation. Only 15 titles have earned the seal thus far, including Netflix’s “Tales of the City” and “Raising Dion,” and HBO’s “Years and Years.”