Hello explorers and welcome to another episode of our amazing blog! In honor of Global Diversity Awareness Month- which is celebrated in October this year- the topic for this month is DIVERSITY!
When we talk about diversity, we refer to the coming together of different people with different ethnicities, abilities, backgrounds in a certain environment. For example, having a diverse cast in a movie or a TV show means having members from the whole gender spectrum, with different body types, ethnicities, sexual orientations, etc. to better represent the complexity of the world around us.
In the past, Hollywood struggled with the diversity concept, and it’s still an ongoing battle. Movies, TV shows, and plays used to showcase only specific types of human beings. This resulted in just a few people feeling represented on screen, while the majority of viewers felt left out and somehow "different from the standard".
Luckily, we see that the situation now is changing, and nowadays everyone’s uniqueness is being appreciated more and more. It’s more common to see a diverse cast and unique people's stories on the big screen.
For example, one of FX’s latest successes, the TV show Pose, went down in history not only for being an emotional and meaningful series but also for the diversity and uniqueness of its cast. Almost every actor and actress on the show, in fact, is part of the LGBTQ+ community, with the majority of the main characters being transgender actresses. The show has been a real success and it gave its talented actors the chance to be finally seen and appreciated.
The importance of uniqueness: the story of RJ Mitte
A diverse cast should also include people with disabilities. Most of the time, we see on the screen stories of people with disabilities where the actors and actresses playing those roles are, instead, people that are not part of this community. One of the many examples is Bryan Cranston in The Upside playing the part of Philip Lacasse, a man affected by quadriplegia, or Daniel Day-Lewis in My Left Foot. It is rarer though, to see an actual disabled person starring in a movie or a TV series.
RJ Mitte is one of the actors with disabilities who managed to build an amazing career for himself. RJ is mostly known for his role as the son of Walter White in the award-winning TV show Breaking Bad, and he’s affected by cerebral palsy. He’s notoriously vocal about his disabilities and he’s a symbol of this new and diverse side of the movie industry that is starting to open up.
In talking about his experience, he often explains how actors and actresses must have the chance to show their talents, regardless of their physical characteristics. In an interview with the Australian morning talk-show Studio 10 he said:
“It’s so important to see things of yourself when you’re a kid and I’m hoping to help start that trend of people where they can see themselves and create stories there aren’t just your typical story but that draw you in and really make you think and make you see people [...] I’m very lucky Breaking Bad was the one that helped me launch that and now here we are”.
Diversity and inclusivity on-screen are crucial for young people who are hungry to see themselves in a storyline, and it’s important to give this chance to all humans.
Misrepresentation or poor representation already made damages in past years, with kids feeling left out or feeling like they have a specific role in life just because they see themselves just in certain types of situations. It’s time to stop this dynamic and finally step into a colorful and diverse on-screen world that can resemble the world around us.
In another interview, RJ gives a precious and inspiring piece of advice, which is mainly directed to people with disabilities, but it can be translated to anybody and for every kind of obstacle that we think might stop us from doing something. In an interview with VICE he said:
“Don’t hide your disabilities, don’t hide whatever it is you’re hiding. I’m not just talking about physical disabilities, I’m talking about mental disabilities. Show who you are and what you are to the world”.
Embrace your uniqueness!
This is exactly the takeaway we have to absorb from this success story. We gotta have the courage to be who we are, to determine what sets us apart from everybody else, and live by that truth.
It is crucial to understand that you are unique and perfect exactly as you are. You might be afraid that some of your characteristics might get in the way of your success. Well, don’t be! Those qualities are the ones that make you who you are and that will make you stand out from the crowd.
Also, it’s important to be exposed to diversity and learn from it. Sometimes it can be challenging to put ourselves in other people’s shoes and empathize with their situations. Instead, being in a classroom or an environment with a lot of different people helps us to learn firsthand the challenges and the battles that other people are fighting. At the same time, it’s going to be easier for us to expose our difficulties and learn how to tackle them.
This is also the only way to reach that authenticity that is more and more sought in this industry. Directors are always looking for a way to make their stories more authentic, and they are going to cast actors who embody the unique characteristics that they need for a particular character.
If you wear your qualities on your sleeves not only you are going to be true to yourself, but you might also have the possibility to find the perfect opportunity. Not only this process is going to ensure an amazing performance, but it’s going to teach you so many things about yourself. You’ll have the opportunity to learn from the characters you’re going to play, enrich your soul, and grow into the amazing performer and human you’re meant to be.
That being said, don’t ever worry that something of yourself might get in your way. Find the qualities that define you and live by them, learn how to help them make you stronger and work for you, and never be afraid of being who you really are.
What about you? What are your uniquenesses and how do they make you feel about yourself? Let us know in the comments and let’s start to learn how to change the narrative around that!