The Ruderman Family Foundation has honored TV series Ramy and This Close, as well as films, Give Me Liberty and The Peanut Butter Falcon with its Seal of Authentic Representation for accurate depictions of people with disabilities. This is the second time the foundation has awarded its Seal and the first time it has awarded feature films.
On the TV side, Hulu’s Ramy is based on the life of comedian Ramy Youssef and has been ordered for a second season. The series features Steve Way, who has Muscular Dystrophy, as his best friend — he’s also Youssef’s best friend in real life. Sundance TV’s romantic drama This Close follows a deaf couple and was created by and stars deaf actors Shoshannah Stern and Josh Feldman. The second season of this Sundance TV series September premieres Sept. 12.
On the feature side, Give Me Liberty tells the story of a medical transport driver enduring a very trying day in wintry Milwaukee. Filled with performers with disabilities, the film’s female lead is Tracy, a young African-American woman with ALS, played by Lauren “Lolo” Spencer. The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival this past winter, was included in the Directors’ Fortnight at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival and will be released in August by Music Box Films.
A modern-day Huck Finn story, The Peanut Butter Falcon follows Zak, a young man with Down syndrome who runs away from home to become a wrestler. Played by Zack Gottsagen, he is befriended by petty thief Tyler, played by Shia LaBoeuf. Roadside Attractions is slated to release the film on August 9.
“The Seal of Authentic Representation is an important initiative for our Foundation as we work with the entertainment community to make casting of actors with disabilities a priority, since it represents the diversity of the community at large,” Jay Ruderman said. “We’re especially gratified that we’re able to recognize feature films for the first time. And we look forward to seeing still more examples of authentic casting in still more TV series and feature films as we go forward. We hope this group of recipients will display the seal proudly and prominently.”
Recipients of the Seal of Authentic Representation are selected by a diverse and highly qualified panel of experts, from the Foundation, academia, actors with disabilities and cultural institutions. The Ruderman Family Foundation Seal of Authentic Representation will be awarded to TV series and films on the verge of release that feature actors with disabilities with a speaking role of at least five lines.
The recognition continues the foundation’s push for inclusivity of actors with disabilities in film and TV. Earlier this year the Seal was awarded to ABC’s Speechless, CBS’ NCIS: New Orleans as well as Netflix’s Special and The OA.