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New Study Shows Networks Leave $10 Billion on the Table by Not Casting Disabled Actors

A new study from The Ruderman Family Foundation shows that U.S. consumers have a potential buying power of $10 billion a month towards stories that showcase characters with disabilities authentically – specifically by casting disabled actors. Additionally, half of viewers are more likely to sign up for content distributors committed to more accurate representation of disabled characters.

“Hollywood tells the stories that the world consumes, and it has an obligation to portray people with disabilities authentically,” foundation president Jay Ruderman said. “There is also a significant financial gain to be made through authentically portraying disability. It can start, we believe, with casting actors with disabilities in significant roles, and employing writers, producers, directors, artisans and executives with disabilities too.”

The Disability Inclusion in Movies and Television analysis was conducted among approximately 1300 movie and TV consumers between the age groups 16-34, 35-54, and 55 and older. Of the people surveyed, 66% self-identified as disabled.

The report revealed more than 50% of U.S. households are likely to watch a show if the character is played by an actor with a disability. Also, over 80% of consumers are in favor of disabled actors portraying non-disabled characters on screen. Likewise, those who support authentic representation of disability on screen are younger, technologically aware and typically overspend on entertainment services and products than other demographic groups, according to the study.

Previously in June, CBS Entertainment committed to audition actors with disabilities for new productions picked up to series by signing the Ruderman Family Foundation’s audition pledge, making the company the first to respond to the foundation’s petition for elevated disabled representation.

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