abilityEntertainment Officially Launches Disability Talent Resource
Groundbreaking new site connects casting professionals to actors with disabilities who are historically overlooked and difficult to find.
When Netflix was casting for "The Healing Powers of Dude,” they refused to give up on their goal to finding a young girl who authentically uses a wheelchair. Not finding the talent from the dozen actors who auditioned, Netflix asked for help from abilityJOBS and ABILITY Magazine. Netflix soon had hundreds of requests for auditions, ultimately leading to Sophie Kim being cast as Amara.
This success prompted ABILITY Corps to create abilityEntertainment (abilityE), an online resource connecting disabled actors, musicians, comedians and more with studios and casting agents looking for qualified performers.
The official abilityE launch is set for Feb. 1st. Heavy-hitter studios like Warner Bros. Discovery, DreamWorks and Disney provided input during its beta phase.
The benefits of increasing the visibility of people with disabilities in the entertainment industry extend far beyond the individual. If you ask most companies about their definition of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI), disability rarely comes to mind. One-quarter of U.S. residents — 61 million people — have a disability. Yet less than 2% of words spoken on TV are by a person with a disability. And 95% of top TV show characters with disabilities are played by non-disabled performers.
“It’s time for authentic representation to become standard in the industry.” says Lia Martirosyan, co-founder of ABILITY Corps. She continued, “Our hope would be to have all major studios join us as sponsors in this important movement.”
- Already over 2500 profiles of disabled talent uploaded to its site. Searchable by age, disability, union status, skill-set, etc.
- Free to talent with disabilities
- Open to vetted studios and casting professionals
- Jason George: (Grey’s Anatomy and Station 19) SAG-AFTRA Diversity Chair suggests visibility in the media creates a society more aware of people with disabilities, and in turn, generates opportunities in every area.
- Fern Field: Oscar nominated and Emmy award winning producer shares: “I learned the importance of accurate portrayals of people with disabilities and how it changes all our lives”. By including people with disabilities in all aspects of media, from writing to acting, a new paradigm of acceptance and awareness occurs.
- Marlee Matlin: Oscar Award winning Deaf actress whose most recent 2021 film CODA (Children of Deaf Adults) won best picture at the Academy Awards “The visibility is coming back into focus again, but I still find that I have to talk about it, about how important it is to have what we deserve to have”.
Additional background and quotes available upon request.
About ABILITY Corps
ABILITY Corps (AC) a 501c3 nonprofit run by people with disabilities. AC is working to break down unconscious bias toward people with disabilities. Our mission is to create a world of inclusion and awareness for people with disabilities — through art, media, housing, employment, and volunteer opportunities. abilityE is a disability talent source for the entertainment industry.