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Monday May 3rd, 2021
Paramount Pictures Adopts the Ruderman Family Foundation Guidelines to Audition Actors with Disabilities
In becoming latest major studio to commit to Foundation’s guidelines, Paramount Pictures underlines Hollywood’s recent acceptance of disability inclusion and authentic representation
Boston, MA, May 3rd, 2021 — Paramount Pictures has today adopted the Ruderman Family Foundation’s guidelines, committing to audition actors with disabilities for studio productions. In 2019 CBS became the first major studio to adopt the guidelines. Paramount Pictures, a division of ViacomCBS, is now the latest major Hollywood studio to adopt the guidelines, marking a significant turning point in the entertainment industry’s inclusion of disability within the broader diversity conversation.
Says Paramount Pictures Chairman and CEO Jim Gianopulos, “Inclusion of individuals with disabilities is central to an authentic commitment to diversity in our industry and in our community. We are proud to adopt these guidelines as a crucial step in the ongoing work of prioritizing and furthering diversity and inclusion both in the making and in the telling of the stories we share with audiences everywhere.”
The Ruderman Family Foundation’s guidelines read:
Founded in 1912, Paramount Pictures works with the entertainment industry’s biggest filmmakers and brightest stars to produce and distribute entertainment around the world. Paramount Pictures is proud to work with actors with disabilities in all three of its divisions: Film, Television and Animation. The studio’s commitment to authentic representation included casting deaf actress Millicent Simmonds in a leading role in both “A Quiet Place” and sequel “A Quiet Place Part II,” as well as casting Liz Carr an actress who uses a wheelchair, in sci-fi movie “Infinite.”
“The Ruderman Family Foundation applauds Paramount Pictures for taking a bold stance in committing to be more inclusive when auditioning for roles in their productions and increasing opportunities for people with disabilities in the industry,” said Jay Ruderman, President of the Ruderman Family Foundation. “We are encouraged to witness significant momentum within the entertainment industry in striving to become a more inclusive place for everyone. Authentic representation will go a long way to reduce the stigmas people with disabilities face every day.”
”I’m very grateful to Paramount for committing to the Ruderman Foundation’s initiative to audition more performers with disabilities. Opening this door is going to change the face of film and television, and it’s going to make superstars out of the many talented disabled actors who have yet to be seen,” said acclaimed filmmaker Peter Farrelly.
With some of the biggest studios in Hollywood now committed to inclusive casting, the entertainment industry is beginning to rewrite the script on disability inclusion and marks one the industry’s most significant societal changes in recent years, opening itself up to a community which accounts for over 20 percent of the U.S. population.
This disruptive change marks the climax of a five-year, ongoing journey from the Ruderman Family Foundation to assist Hollywood to embrace disability as part of its definition of diversity. In addition to garnering the support of major studios, the Foundation has worked with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to promote more opportunities for people with disabilities in the industry, and with the Sundance Film Festival and its parent organization (the Sundance Institute) to make disability inclusion and diversity a priority at the festival itself as well as throughout the entire year.
In 2016, the Foundation’s research showed that only 5 percent of top show characters with disabilities on television were played by actors with disabilities. However, last year a follow-up study found that 22 percent of all characters with disabilities on network television are portrayed authentically by an actor with the same disability.