BOSTON, Feb. 12, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- "The entertainment industry has heard calls for more authentic representation from several minority communities and leading minority actors, directors and producers, and heeded these calls. We now see greater representation on screen of African-Americans, Asians and Hispanic actors. Yet people with disabilities, who are the largest minority population in the world at twenty percent, are represented authentically on screen less than three percent of the time," said Jay Ruderman, President of the Ruderman Family Foundation. "The time has come for the Academy of Motion Picture of Arts and Sciences to heed the call to stop the implicit discrimination in the representation of people with disabilities in film."
Ahead of the 91st Annual Academy Awards, leading disability advocacy group, the Ruderman Family Foundation has announced a partnership with Yale School of Drama to support training for actors with disabilities, in a bid to move the needle on actor equality as people with disabilities continue to be left out of the diversity conversation within the entertainment industry. Jessy Yates, who began her first of three years of training at Yale this fall, is the first recipient of the annual $50,000 tuition scholarship and living stipend. Yates is an actor, performance artist, and comedian with Cerebral Palsy. The partnership is the first collaboration with a drama school to enable actors with a disability to pursue their dreams.
On January 9, the Ruderman Family Foundation and Yale School of Drama hosted the Accessing Artistry Convening in New York to advance inclusion of students with disabilities in the leading theater schools. In addition, the Foundation and Yale will co-host a convening in Los Angeles later this year to advance disability inclusion in the entertainment sector. Last year, the Foundation teamed up with Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson to advocate for more inclusive practices in the industry, and have previously spoken out against a number of misrepresented castings.
"The Ruderman Family Foundation has taken one of the first steps in the promotion of actors with disabilities in entertainment in partnership with Yale University School of Drama by creating a scholarship for students with disabilities to pursue a degree in acting," Ruderman added. "We hope that this partnership will spark the industry to examine the dearth of actors with disabilities in the industry and take proactive moves toward authentic representation. We believe that authentic representation in popular entertainment will help reduce the stigma faced by people with disabilities in all sectors of our society."
After a groundbreaking study by the Ruderman Family Foundation discovered that an astonishing 95% of top show characters with disabilities on TV are played by non-disabled actors, the organization launched its TV Challenge, a call to pilot season creators to audition and cast more people with disabilities. As a result of the Foundation's tireless work in the industry, it was honored with the Disability Awareness Awards from the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists.
Yates most recently appeared on the hit ABC sitcom Speechless and has performed at such notable venues as BAM, The Public Theater, Queens Theatre, Ensemble Studio Theatre, NJPAC, Florida Studio Theatre, Williamstown Theatre Festival, and The Kennedy Center. Her work, often using the medium of burlesque, is a satirical take on society's view of disability. She has served on the NYC Mayor's Office of People with Disabilities Youth Council and is an original member of Disability/Arts NYC Taskforce, a group that advocates for the right of disabled artists to have access to cultural resources throughout the city.
"For years, I did not think there was place for people with visibly disabled bodies as performers and creators, and I discounted myself from the profession," said Yates. "The training necessary for sustained careers in the arts is often not accessible to the disabled community. I am deeply thankful for the Ruderman Family Foundation support of my own training as an artist as well as for their unwavering dedication to disability representation throughout media."
Jake Sharfman, J Cubed PR
About the Ruderman Family Foundation
The Ruderman Family Foundation is an internationally recognized organization, which advocates for the full inclusion of people with disabilities in our society. The Foundation supports effective programs, innovative partnerships and a dynamic approach to philanthropy in advocating for and advancing the inclusion of people with disabilities throughout the United States and the world.
The Ruderman Family Foundation believes that inclusion and understanding of all people is essential to a fair and flourishing community and imposes these values within its leadership and funding.
For more information, please visit www.rudermanfoundation.org
SOURCE Ruderman Family Foundation