It seems the media at large are taking the word diversity and concluding it relates solely to ethnicity and gender. There’s not enough diversity at the BAFTA’s. There’s not enough people of colour, there’s not enough women. The topic of inclusion has become the “in thing”, the hot take- but where does disability feature. There’s not even a mention.

There are several articles circulating the web which present the speeches of Joaquin Phoenix, Prince William and Rebel Wilson as rightly highlighting the issue of a lack of diversity at the BAFTA’s. But a quick Ctrl+F search for the word “disability” brings up 0 results. It’s a non topic, left off the list. I ask, how can that be right in 2020?

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Orator’s of widely reported speeches at this year’s BAFTA’s

The BBC lead with this (see below) at the start of an article entitled ‘Bafta Film Awards 2020: 10 things we learned at the ceremony’. I learnt one thing. Disability couldn’t be found for trying.

The Bafta nominations have been criticised for the serious lack of diversity. All the acting nominees this year were white, while no female directors have now been nominated since 2013. It “simply cannot be right in this day and age” to still be talking about diversity, said the Duke of Cambridge, while Joker star and best actor winner Joaquin Phoenix took aim at “systemic racism” in the film industry. Rebel Wilson flew the flag for the lack of female directors, saying of the all-male nominees: “I don’t think I could do what they do, honestly, I just don’t have the balls.”Introduction to the BBC article

Have you noted the keywords? White. Female. Systemic Racism. Female. All-Male. Balls. If you’re going to start flinging around terms like diversity, be clear that you’re only picking a few choice issues to focus on. Even worse, if you’re going to list them, like South Korean Director Bong Joon Ho, make sure you don’t leave any out. It’s ironic that when the words diversity and inclusion are paired together as they often are, so many exclude disability as even being on the table for discussion.

“From the various efforts we’ve been putting in, we will arrive where we do have diversity in this industry, whether it’s about gender, sexuality or people of colour.”Bong Joon Ho on diversity in the film industry

Thankfully, I’m not alone in picking up on the glaring omission. Below is just a flavour of the views expressed on Twitter on the invisibility of disability:

When was the last time you saw a disabled protagonist (portrayed by a disabled actor or actress)? It’s a tricky question to answer. Or indeed, made note of a disabled director, writer, or producer? Chances are it’s not at this year’s BAFTA’s. We should be giving thought to these questions just as much as the ones highlighted by the media about gender and ethnicity in recent days.

This video perfectly illustrates just how big misconceptions of the disabled community (in the film industry and generally) still are within the media. Sadly the media, so ingrained in our subconscious, is often the only way that those without any lived experience or personal connections can experience and learn about disability. Work still needs to be done to change perceptions and recognise disabling barriers, but if the work of the talented team at DANC – Disabled Artists Networking Community is anything to go by, we just need to spread the word.

This post was originally published on 5th February 2020 by one of our Volunteer Support Workers, Alex Foster on her blog ‘Tales From The Chair’:

To find out more about our training delivery at Toucan Diversity check us out: Disability Equality Training & Disability Awareness Training

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