Jewish foundation rallies celebrities to call for more opportunities for people with disabilities


(JTA) — Some of Hollywood’s biggest stars are asking studio, production and network executives to pledge to create more opportunities for people with disabilities at the behest of a Jewish foundation.

The list of nearly 50 stars who have all signed an open letter under the auspices of the Ruderman Family Foundation includes Oscar nominees Ed Norton, Bryan Cranston and Mark Ruffalo; Oscar-winning director Peter Farrelly; Oscar winners Chris Cooper and Marlee Matlin; filmmaker Bobby Farrelly; Tony Award winner Ali Stroker; Golden Globe winners Danny DeVito and Tony Shaloub; Screen Actors Guild Award winner Jason Alexander; and actors Marianne Leone Cooper and Orlando Jones.

The letter, dated Nov. 1, notes that among the 61 Oscar nominees and 27 winners playing characters with a disability, only two were portrayed by an actor with disability. It called on the entertainment industry to “Cast qualified performers with disabilities, thereby improving their visibility and expanding overall talent pools.”

“Now is the time to change the conversation. Hollywood can play a significant role in driving socioeconomic progress for people with disabilities. The entertainment industry must embrace disability as a key facet of diversity and can help normalize disability, erasing the stigma that surrounds it,” the letter also said.

In 2019, the Ruderman Foundation began certifying movies and shows with its Seal of Approval for Authentic Representation. Fifteen shows and movies have earned the seal, including five in its most recent selection: Netflix’sTales of the City and “Raising Dion,” ABC’s “General Hospital,” BBC/HBO’s “Years and Years and Audience’s “Loudermilk.

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