The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) passed resolutions this week to increase diversity, and CSI: Crime Scene Investigation‘s Robert David Hall (Dr Al Robbins) is hopeful that the entertainment industry will grow to feature more disabled performers.
One of the resolutions calls for member unions to strive for greater diversity, including women, minorities, LGBT individuals and those with disabilities. Another resolution encourages unions to advocate for disabled workers’ rights. The latter would begin by supporting a campaign launched by three unions a year ago: the Screen Actors Guild, the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, and Actors’ Equity Association. Hall belongs to all three unions.
The CSI actor lost both of his legs in a car accident more than 30 years ago, but he didn’t let that stop him from pursuing a career in acting. “Somebody told me you can’t be an actor if you don’t have any legs,” Hall revealed. “And I said, ‘Oh, yeah?'”
However, working hard didn’t guarantee an abundance of opportunities. “There were never very many auditions,” he said. Actors without disabilities might have dozens of roles to try out for, Hall explained, while disabled actors are called in “two or three times a year to play the angry crippled guy. … We aren’t asked to play men: fathers, lovers, judges, whatever.”
The actor spoke in support of the resolutions, saying, “We know that realistic portrayals of people with disabilities can change hearts and minds around the world.” He added, “We’re people first. Everybody is a person first, then you describe them — a person who is disabled, a person who is a Jew. … Every group has some talent and something to offer.”
Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette