EXCLUSIVE: Ruderman Family Foundation has unveiled its latest “Seal of Authentic Representation” honors which recognizes films and television series which demonstrate a commitment toward full inclusiveness in popular culture. The disability rights organization is honoring This Is Us, See, Atypical, Spare Room and The Politician for authentically casting actors with disabilities.
This mark’s the Foundation’s fourth Seal of Authentic Representation award. This year, the honorees include This Is Us which cast Blake Stadnik, an actor with Stargardt disease (a form of macular degeneration), as Jack Damon in the NBC family drama. The character was born with retinopathy of prematurity. On See, Marilee Talkington and Bree Klauser both have legal blindness in a series set in a future where all humans have lost their sense of sight, until twins are born that have sight.
In Netflix’s Atypical three actors with autism are featured: Dominique Brown, Layla Weiner, and Spencer Harte while the feature Spare Room cast Cole Sibus, an actor with Down Syndrome, as Arrow, a role which portrays the same disability. Sibus plays the brother of a widow who rents a room to a guilt-ridden war veteran attempting to make amends. The Politician stars Ryan J. Haddad, who has cerebral palsy, as Andrew Cashman, a character with cerebral palsy.
“We are gratified to see the ongoing progress in the realm of authentic representation in entertainment, including from the latest recipients of our Seal of Authentic Representation,” said Jay Ruderman, President of the Ruderman Family Foundation. “At the same time, we hope that these recognitions continue to inspire broader institutional change in Hollywood, motivating more producers and directors to not only audition but eventually cast actors with disabilities — especially in the roles that they are uniquely qualified to play. For far too long, disability has been glaringly left out of Hollywood’s conversation surrounding diversity, and inclusive and authentic casting decisions play a significant role in righting this historical wrong.”
The Seal of Authentic Representation is awarded when productions meet two criteria: they feature actors with disabilities with a speaking role of at least five lines; and they are in, or on the verge of, general release. The previous round of honorees included the TV series Tales of the City, General Hospital, Years and Years and Loudermilk.