CBS Entertainment has signed the Ruderman Family Foundation’s Audition Pledge, a commitment to audition actors with disabilities for new productions picked up to series. The company, which includes CBS Television Studios and CBS All Access, is the first in the industry to respond to the advocacy organization’s request for increased disabled representation.
“We take pride in our commitment to cast and hire people with disabilities in our productions,” CBS Entertainment EVP of diversity, inclusion, & communications Tiffany Smith-Anoa’i said. “We salute the Ruderman Family Foundation for advocating for this very achievable and important goal.”
CBS’ “NCIS: New Orleans” was one of four shows to receive a Seal of Authentic Representation from Ruderman in May for their casting of Daryl “Chill” Mitchell in the role of agent Patton Plame who uses a wheelchair throughout the show. ABC’s now-canceled “Speechless,” and Netflix’s “Special” and “The OA” were the three other shows honored with the seal, which recognizes shows that cast disabled actors with substantive speaking parts.
“The Ruderman Family Foundation commends CBS for its leadership in becoming the first major media company to pledge to audition actors with disabilities for roles in their productions,” Foundation president Jay Ruderman said in a statement regarding CBS’ signing. ”It is our hope that other major media companies will follow their lead and foster opportunities that will lead to more authentic representation of people with disabilities in popular entertainment. Enhanced visibility of disability onscreen will help reduce stigmas people with disabilities face in everyday life.”
The foundation’s main goal is to increase on-screen representation for the disabled, which according to the organization, make up about 20 percent of the population despite only 2 percent of television characters portrayed as disabled.
The full pledge reads as follows:
We recognize that disability is central to diversity, that the disability community comprises the largest minority in our nation, and that people with disabilities face seclusion from the entertainment industry.
We understand that increasing auditions, no matter the size of the role, is a critical step toward achieving inclusion in the industry.
This studio pledges to increase the number of actors and actresses with disabilities who audition for parts on television and in film.