Netflix is on the hunt for a young wheelchair user to co-lead a new family series called “The Healing Powers of Dude.”
The popular streaming service is looking for a wheelchair-using girl between the ages of 9 and 13 to co-star in the new show. The casting call specifically states the chosen actress must “authentically use a wheelchair” and “can be from any country as long as she speaks English.”
“While writing our show about a boy with social anxiety disorder we decided to make one of his close friends a smart, determined girl who uses a wheelchair. Her unwavering confidence, despite the obstacles she faces, helps our main character find the strength and support he needs to manage his disorder,” said Erica Spates and Sam Littenberg-Weisberg, the show’s executive producers, in a statement.
In the wake of Hollywood’s recent disability controversies — Bryan Cranston’s casting in “The Upside” and the Time’s Up movement’s lack of inclusion of women with disabilities, to name a couple — a major content producer specifically calling for disabled actors represents a major step forward for disability representation.
“We feel strongly about finding an actress who uses a wheelchair for this role because visibility and representation are very important to us and to Netflix,” the statement continues.
Amy Trigg knows that importance better than anyone. The actor uses a wheelchair and is currently in rehearsal for her roles as Biondella in “The Taming of the Shrew” and Juliet in “Measure for Measure” as part of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s 2019 season featuring deaf and disabled actors.
“I believe that if there was more true representation on TV then people’s views on deaf and disabled people would change. Perhaps if there was a film in which a character used a hoist to get their wheelchair in and out of their car, Pam from down the road wouldn’t stare quite so much when I use my hoist,” says Trigg. “If there was a TV program centered around a disabled character going about their everyday life, then Pam wouldn’t constantly tell me how brave I am every time I leave the house.”
As an actress, she understands firsthand how few opportunities there have been for performers with disabilities, but is thankful to be living in a time when well-known brands like Netflix and the Royal Shakespeare Company have started opening their doors to disabled talent.
“Every time I see a disabled character in a program or film, I immediately IMDB the actor to check if they’re actually disabled or not. If they’re not, then I usually switch off. It means that I’ve given up on a lot of films and TV programs that I’d otherwise love to watch, but I’d feel uncomfortable watching them,” says Trigg. “True deaf and disabled representation isn’t just important for the deaf and disabled community. It’s important for everyone.”
If you or someone you know would be right for the role on Netflix, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Top Photo: Amy Trigg rehearsing for “The Taming of the Shrew,” courtesy of Sam Allard/Royal Shakespeare Company