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Boston, MA, September 3rd, 2021 — Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE) has joined the Ruderman Family Foundation’s call to reaffirm its commitment to audition actors with disabilities with each new studio production. SPE’s commitment also furthers the Foundation’s campaign to continue to improve the portrayal of disabilities in film and television content.
SPE has pledged the following:
SPE’s commitment to authentic representation has previously been demonstrated in shows that include “Atypical” and the recent casting of Matthew Duckett in Lady Chatterley’s Lover.
“We applaud Sony Pictures Entertainment for joining a fast-growing movement that affirms disability as part of Hollywood’s definition of diversity and positions the entertainment industry as a force for prosocial change in all its forms,” said Jay Ruderman, President of the Ruderman Family Foundation. “In making this commitment, Sony will quickly realize that auditioning people with disabilities makes sense from both a values perspective and a business perspective. Authentic representation not only uplifts the quality of studio productions, but also enables Hollywood to tap into a largely untapped source of talent. We look forward to continuing to work towards motivating this tide of progress and disruptive change in entertainment, through Sony and other high-profile industry partners.”
“Sony Pictures values the partnership and relationship we have with the Ruderman Family Foundation, and their tremendous support in furthering opportunity for the disability community,” said Paul Martin, Chief Diversity Officer, Sony Pictures Entertainment.
Over the past five years, the Ruderman Family Foundation has spearheaded an effort to change the landscape in Hollywood for people with disabilities. This past month’s announcement from the Academy Awards on new inclusion requirements for Best Picture, follows a partnership with the Foundation earlier this year to ensure that aspiring young actors with disabilities are able to get a head start in the entertainment industry.
In addition to garnering the support of major studios, a separate Foundation-initiated pledge was signed by a host of A-list actors and directors which called on studio, production, and network executives to pledge to create more opportunities for people with disabilities. Among those who signed the pledge were Oscar winners George Clooney and Joaquin Phoenix, Oscar nominees Ed Norton, Bryan Cranston and Mark Ruffalo, actors Glenn Close and Eva Longoria, and Oscar-winning director Peter Farrelly. In July, the Foundation partnered with Academy Award-winning actress Octavia Spencer on a public service announcement calling on the entertainment industry again to increase the casting of people with disabilities, and earlier this month honored Taraji P. Henson with its 2020 Morton E. Ruderman Award in Inclusion.
In 2019 the Foundation released a white paper showing that half of U.S. households want accurate portrayals of characters with disabilities, and despite that only 22% of characters with disabilities are authentically portrayed on television. The Foundation has also been certifying movies and shows with its Seal of Approval for Authentic Representation, awarding 34 recipients with the Seal thus far. As a result of the Foundation’s tireless work in the industry, it was honored with the SAG-AFTRA Disability Awareness Award at last year’s Media Access Awards.