Paramount Pictures has become the latest studio to adopt the Ruderman Family Foundation’s guidelines for auditioning actors with disabilities for studio productions.
“Inclusion of individuals with disabilities is central to an authentic commitment to diversity in our industry and in our community,” Paramount Pictures chairman-CEO Jim Gianopulos said in a statement. “We are proud to adopt these guidelines as a crucial step in the ongoing work of prioritizing and furthering diversity and inclusion both in the making and in the telling of the stories we share with audiences everywhere.”
Jay Ruderman, president of the Ruderman Family Foundation, told Variety that Paramount’s adoption of these guidelines is “the latest milestone for inclusion” in the entertainment industry.
“By formally committing to audition actors with disabilities for studio productions, Paramount Pictures has taken a significant step toward cementing a culture of inclusion that the company has already put into practice for years, including by working with actors with disabilities across its divisions and making casting decisions that reflect authentic representation in high-profile roles,” Ruderman said.
Amid Hollywood’s talk about inclusion and diversity, people with disabilities have often been ignored as able-bodied actors continue to be cast as disabled characters and disabled individuals keep being frustrated in their attempts to get hired. The motto “Nothing about us without us” has become a rallying cry to raise consciousness.
Paramount’s move follows CBS Entertainment, which is also under the parent company of ViacomCBS; CBS Ent. became the first major studio to respond to the organization’s request for increased disabled representation in 2019, followed by NBCU earlier this year.
Paramount’s declaration opens the doors to inclusive casting in both feature-length films and television series. According to the organization, the disability community accounts for over 20% of the U.S. population.
“A rising tide of progress and disruptive change is taking hold in entertainment, in which major studios are committing to inclusion and authentic representation not only in word but through their actual casting decisions,” Ruderman said. “As more studios adopt these guidelines, disability will continue to assume its rightful role as part of the definition of diversity in Hollywood, and the entertainment industry will be able to fulfill its full potential as a force for prosocial change.”
The foundation’s 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.”