Ruderman Foundation Unites Hollywood for a More Inclusive Entertainment Industry
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Ruderman Foundation Unites Hollywood for a More Inclusive Entertainment Industry

The Foundation is calling on major studios to commit to auditioning more actors with disabilities.

Jay Ruderman with actress Marlee Matlin. Courtesy of the Ruderman Family Foundation
Jay Ruderman with actress Marlee Matlin. Courtesy of the Ruderman Family Foundation

The Ruderman Family Foundation has united some of Hollywood’s biggest stars to call on studio, production, and network executives to pledge to create more opportunities for people with disabilities.

The impressive list of stars include Oscar Nominees Ed Norton, Bryan Cranston and Mark Ruffalo, along with Oscar-winning director Peter Farrelly, Oscar winner Chris Cooper, acclaimed filmmaker Bobby Farrelly, Tony Award winner Ali Stroker, Oscar winner Marlee Matlin, Golden Globe winners Danny DeVito and Tony Shaloub, Screen Actors Guild Award winner Jason Alexander and well-known actors Marianne Leone Cooper and Orlando Jones, who have all signed an open letter circulated by the Foundation.

Responding to this disturbing trend in which Hollywood ignores disability as part of diversity, the Ruderman Family Foundation’s letter specifically calls on the entertainment industry “to audition actors with disabilities” as well as to “cast qualified performers with disabilities, thereby improving their visibility and expanding overall talent pools. Infusing the industry with this largely untapped source of talent promises to boost box office and network revenues while opening the market to an even broader audience, as evidenced by all previous diversity-oriented initiatives in entertainment.”

The open letter is among the Foundation’s series of initiatives that foster greater inclusion within the entertainment industry, a mission which has garnered support among notable personalities such as Dwayne Johnson, actor and disability advocate Danny Woodburn, and many more. This past June, after the Foundation called on major studios to sign a separate pledge to commit to auditioning more actors with disabilities, CBS became the first studio to sign. Recently, the BBC also pledged a more authentic and distinctive representation of people with disabilities on screen.

Additionally, in 2019 the Foundation began certifying movies and shows with its Seal of Approval for Authentic Representation. 15 shows and movies have earned the Seal thus far, including five in its most recent selection. Most recently, the Foundation announced that it will honor filmmakers Peter Farrelly and Bobby Farrelly as the recipients of its Morton E. Ruderman Award in Inclusion in recognition of their advocacy for the inclusive and authentic representation of people with disabilities in entertainment. The Farrelly brothers will be presented with the award during a March 2020 ceremony in Beverly Hills.

“Despite its immense potential for leadership in inclusion, social justice, and civil rights, Hollywood has for far too long left disability out of the conversation about diversity,” said Jay Ruderman, President of the Ruderman Family Foundation. “We are gratified that renowned actors like Ali Stroker, Tony Shaloub, Ed Norton, Bryan Cranston, Mark Ruffalo, Jason Alexander and Orlando Jones, along with amazing filmmakers Peter Farrelly and Bobby Farrelly, are leveraging their influence and name recognition to effect real change in their industry by joining our call for a more authentic and inclusive casting landscape. The courage of these initial signatories will undoubtedly serve to activate and inspire their peers in Hollywood. We call upon more actors and executives to add their names to this letter and make inclusion in the entertainment industry a priority.”

For the full open letter and for more information, visit the Ruderman Family Foundation website here.

And see here for a full list of stars to have signed the letter:
Bryan Cranston, Edward Norton, Mark Ruffulo, Danny DeVito, Steven Weber, Jason George, Jason Alexander, Willie Garson, Marlee Matlin, Glenn Close, Ali Stroker, Kurt Yeager, TIm Bagley, Sammi Haney, Danny Woodburn, Bobby Farrelly, Peter Farrelly, CJ Jones, Glen Mazzara, Orlando Jones, RJ Mitte, Ruth Madeley, Shani Atias, Tony Shaloub, Chris Cooper, Marianne Leone Cooper, Norman Lear, Steve Way, Lauren “Lolo” Spencer, Fern Field, Robby Benson, Cherie Currie, Geri Jewel, Daryl “Chill” Mitchell

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 America and the world.

The Ruderman Family Foundation believes that inclusion and understanding of all people is essential to a fair and flourishing community and promotes these values through its leadership and funding.

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