WFTV Working with Creative and Disabled Talent Event - 3 August 2020

This evening WFTV ran an event - Working with Creative and Disabled Talent.- hosted by Chair and CEO, Liz Tucker to discuss what can be done to improve opportunities for disabled people working within TV and film to create a truly diverse workplace.

Joining Liz for the session were three award winning disabled actors :

Cherylee Houston, last year’s WFTV ITV Achievement of the Year Award winner;  Melissa Johns, both, she and Cherylee Houston are co-founders of the organisation Triple C which addresses the problems disabled people encounter accessing and participating in the arts; and Ruth Madeley, best known for her lead role in the BBC/HBO Show Years and Years.

The actors revealed their experience in the workplace and 
Ruth Madeley said that disability requires a distinct focus because it lags so far behind other under-represented areas.

Melissa Johns called for greater disabled representation to be built into projects from conception, rather than it being treated as an afterthought.

“Look at a script and identify all of the parts that could be played by a disabled person,” she said.

The trio also called for pre-production processes to ensure accessibility is considered from the get-go across all departments.

“It’s about your location scout, researchers and costume design,” said Johns. “People think its just the writers and casting teams, but it’s down to everyone.”

They called for broadcasters to write accessibility costs into the budget of every show. 
Former Coronation Street actor Houston said that coming up with solutions to incorporate on and off-screen disabled talent should be considered as a creative opportunity.

“It’s the same as thinking creatively about using sound or a camera differently,” she said. “We are richer to the creative process than people think that we are.”

There was general agreement that it is currently an ideal time to effect such changes as the industry embraces new working processes and guidelines as it gets back to its feet post-lockdown.




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