The Power of TV: Representing Disability in Storytelling

"The Power of TV: Representing Disability in Storytelling," was a public event and co-presentation of the Television Academy Foundation and Easterseals on Wednesday, April 24, 2019 at the Saban Media Center in North Hollywood, California.

Panelists:

  • Holly Robinson Peete, Moderator 
  • Krista Vernoff, Show Runner and Executive Producer of Grey's Anatomy
  • Katherine Perez, Director of The Coelho Center for Disability Law, Policy & Innovation 
  • Jonathan Murray, Bunim/Murray Prods. Co-Founder and “Born This Way” Executive Producer
  • Daryl Mitchell, Actor in NCIS: New Orleans
  • R.J. Mitte, Actor in Breaking Bad

Read about the event in Variety.  

Coming from the academic and policy world, Perez was adamant that “authentic representation” was the only way to go when telling stories of characters with disabilities, and that such representation “means moving away from the pity model [and] medical model of disability towards the social [and] celebrating as a culture.”

She added that because one in four people identify as someone with a disability, “we don’t have representation until one in every four [characters] have a disability.”

Read about the event in the Hollywood Reporter.

Since disability and diversity have often been drafted as separate categories, Perez stressed the importance of intersectionality to creating authentic representations, as "disability on TV is not achieved when you have a whole bunch of white disabled characters." Stern agreed that it's the "same conversation," with Mitte reminding the audience that "disability doesn't discriminate. Anyone in the room could leave here and have a disability in 20 minutes. Everyone can be affected by it."

Photo of panelists and guests at "The Power of TV: Representing Disability in Storytelling," a public event and co-presentation of the Television Academy Foundation and Easterseals on Wednesday, April 24, 2019 at the Saban Media Center in North Hollywood, California.

 Photo of panelists onstage at the panel discussion "The Power of TV: Representing Disability in Storytelling," a public event and co-presentation of the Television Academy Foundation and Easterseals on Wednesday, April 24, 2019 at the Saban Media Center in North Hollywood, California.