I remember years ago, soon after I’d quit my day job in fact, being asked to moderate a talk at the BBC. It was for their staff. The talk was on disability and the media. The panel had disabled actors and production staff. The audience was packed with script writers, casting managers, and directors.
My objective. Help them to get more disabled people in the media industry. Both on and off screen.
It still stuns me when non disabled people play disabled characters. However from a point, say twenty years ago, not even having any disabled characters – this was a start. Really it’s no more offensive than when white actors played black characters. Naturally this is totally unacceptable now. Quite right too.
One of the said reasons for this is talent. Or rather lack of talent. So we have to ask – are there talented disabled actors out there? Wrong. We have to first define ‘talent’, and decide if it’s something attainable from birth or with education. Or a bit of both.
Naturally we can’t say for sure. Most people agree that talent needs to be there from birth in a person. All people have talents. Just different ones. It’s the hard work that breeds and leads to success.
Therefore if there’s no disabled talent in the media world, we really mean there’s no nurturing of talent going on (regarding the acting profession, for the purposes of this article). So we rightly ask why not. Are there no accessible drama schools? Are there no work opportunities available? Are we witnessing discrimination?
When you peel back the layers more, you start to find disabled actors with amazing talent. And success. Maybe things are already on the up?
I first came across Storme Toolis in the Inbetweeners. Although not by name. I just remember the scene by the swimming pool. Where the lads realised they were stealing her family’s sunbed. Making her cry.
However, I went on to find out she’d already had a far bigger break before that…
In this episode of The Martyn Sibley Show, we hear all about Stormes journey into acting. The dreams. The risk taking. The support. The set backs. Plus a bit about the future.
She’s gone onto work in social education, whilst still growing her acting career. Storme adapted Romeo and Juliet, in turn encouraging all women to love themselves more. Body confidence is so important in today’s model filled adverts. Plus she starred in one of the naughty Maltesers adverts, that we all loved for its challenging of stereotypes. And it’s cheekyness.
We do conclude there’s more work to be done. Storme goes to show, at the same time, its all there for the taking. If you dare to dream and go for it.
As always I hope you enjoy this episode as much as I did making it. Please do rate the podcast, share it with your friends, and let me know who you’d like on in the future.
To listen to this episode on iTunes just click here.
See you next time.