×

How the Ruderman Foundation Is Furthering PWD Visibility

Philanthropist-executive Jay Ruderman has a very specific message for the television industry: You’re on the right path, but there’s still a long way to go.

The Ruderman Foundation has been championing causes since 2002, and has recently focused on Hollywood’s neglect of people with disabilities, or PWD. Amid all the talk about Hollywood’s lack of inclusive hiring, no group has been more ignored. So in May the Ruderman Family Foundation began to salute those rare works that offer “authentic” depictions of PWD, meaning the character has more than five lines and is portrayed by a person with disabilities.

“We’re trying to generate conversation,” says Ruderman, who will be at Variety’s TV Summit June 12. “This industry is more powerful in shaping attitudes than any other. For the last few years, our organization has been critical, pointing out representations of disabilities that are not authentic. But we also want to recognize those who are doing it right.”

The first TV shows honored with a Seal of Authentic Representation by the foundation were “NCIS: New Orleans,” “The OA,” “Special” and “Speechless.” Significantly, no feature films qualified.

Speaking at Variety’s May 9 Inclusion Summit, Ruderman pointed out that America’s unemployment rate was 3.6%, yet roughly 70% of PWD are out of work.

Ruderman says it’s not only about artistry, civil rights and human decency — it’s also about good business. ABC’s “The Good Doctor,” centering on a character with autism, is a big hit and proves that audiences are looking for new and original stories.

The Ruderman Foundation’s white papers on the subject include the fact that people with disabilities are about 20% of the population, yet are rarely portrayed onscreen — and when they are, 95% of the time it’s by an actor who does not share that condition.

As Ruderman says, “It’s routinely seen as ‘good acting.’ There is a saying in the community, ‘nothing about us, without us.’”

In other words, don’t depict a character in a wheelchair, and then cast an able-bodied actor in the role.

 

Pictured: Netflix’s “Special

More TV

  • T-Pain, Faheem Rashad Najm. T-Pain performs

    TV News Roundup: 'T-Pain's School of Business' Sets August Premiere

    In today’s roundup, “T-Pain’s School of Business” sets an August 6 premiere on Fuse, and OWN greenlights a new talks series. EXECUTIVE NEWS Matt Brodlie is leaving his role as director of original film at Netflix to join the Disney+ content marketing team as senior vice president of international content development. In his new role, [...]

  • Songs for Screens Powered by Mac

    Songs For Screens: Labrinth on Scoring HBO’s Drake-Produced Drama 'Euphoria'

    British singer-songwriter Labrinth (née Timothy Lee McKenzie) has been having one of the biggest years of his nearly decade-long career, from the April release of his collaborative album with L.S.D. (a.k.a. Labrinth Sia & Diplo) to his starring role in the latest campaign for MINI, where he reinterprets Cole Porter’s cowboy classic “Don’t Fence Me [...]

  • The Office

    'The Office' to Stream Exclusively on NBCUniversal Service Beginning in 2021

    NBCUniversal announced Tuesday that it will begin streaming “The Office” exclusively on its standalone streaming service beginning in 2021. The popular comedy series will leave Netflix once the current deal with NBCU expires at the end of 2020, the same year that NBCU plans to launch its ad-supported streaming service. All nine seasons of the [...]

  • 'Lincoln Lawyer' Series in Development at

    'Lincoln Lawyer' Series in Development at CBS from David E. Kelley

    David E. Kelley is returning once more to the court of legal dramas. CBS has issued a series production commitment for “The Lincoln Lawyer,” with Kelley in position to pen and executive produce. Based on the series of bestselling novels by Michael Connelly, the show hails from A+E Studios in association with CBS TV Studios. [...]

  • Patrick Somerville'Maniac' TV Show premiere, London,

    'Maniac' Creator to Helm 'Made for Love,' 'Station Eleven' for WarnerMedia

    “Maniac” creator Patrick Somerville has signed on to helm two new series, “Made for Love” and “Station Eleven,” for WarnerMedia’s upcoming streaming service. “Made for Love,” which will be executive produced and directed by S.J. Clarkson, is a 10-episode, straight-to-series adaptation based on the novel of the same name by Alissa Nutting. The half-hour comedy [...]

  • Naomi Watts and Gretchen Carlson'The Loudest

    ‘The Loudest Voice’ Stars Naomi Watts, Russell Crowe Talk Roger Ailes

    Roger Ailes may have been the force behind the creation of Fox News, but the late newsman’s legacy will forever be his atrocious sexual harassment of several of the network’s female anchors and producers. Showtime premiered its new limited series “The Loudest Voice,” which chronicles Ailes’ rise and fall, on Monday night at the Paris [...]

  • Steve McQueen VSS

    Amazon to Launch Steve McQueen's Anthology Series ‘Small Axe’ in the U.S.

    Amazon has boarded “Small Axe,” the upcoming anthology series from “12 Years a Slave” director Steve McQueen, and will launch the series in the U.S. It will bow on the BBC in the U.K. and BBC Studios is selling it internationally. Amazon’s European content chief Georgia Brown revealed its involvement in the series, Tuesday, at [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content