Disability on Screen: LMU Forum Spotlights Hollywood’s Treatment of Disabled Individuals

Are people with disabilities stereotyped in the stories we watch on screen? What obstacles do they face working on camera and behind the scenes in Hollywood, and what needs to change?

A panel of entertainment industry and media experts – including the actor Robert David Hall, who plays Albert Robbins, M.D., the coroner on CSI: Crime Scene Investigation – will address those questions and others at a March 16 forum at Loyola Marymount University. A prominent advocate for disabled Americans, Hall lost both legs as a result of a car accident and today uses prosthetic limbs.

He will join a writer, producer, talent agent and a professor of journalism and new media for the forum “Disability on Screen: Issues, Challenges and Opportunities.” The panelists will discuss the climate for jobs in front of and behind the camera, how disabled individuals are portrayed in movies and on T.V., and tendencies to cast disabled actors and actresses for limited story arcs, rather than in featured and continuing roles.

“With the recent Oscar nominees getting scrutiny over the representation of minorities on and behind Hollywood’s screens, we too often forget about how people with disabilities are featured in, and contribute to, film and television product,” said Lawrence Wenner, Von der Ahe professor of communication and ethics at LMU. “Indeed, one wouldn’t know that there are 56 million people with disabilities in the United States from what we see on our cultural main stages, where they are underrepresented perhaps more than any minority group.”
“Disability on Screen” is free and open to the public. It starts at 4:30 p.m. in Ahmanson Auditorium, University Hall 1000.

Presented as part of LMU’s Forum on Media Ethics and Social Responsibility, the event is sponsored by the College of Communication and Fine Arts, School of Film and Television, School of Education, Office of Disability Support Services, the William H. Hannon Library and Department of Communication Studies.