BBC to train & showcase disabled actors

By | August 8, 2017
Daniel Laurie as Reggie in the BBC show Call the Midwife

The BBC today launched a nationwide search, training and showcase opportunity for disabled actors. The development programme, which is called Class Act: A Nationwide Search And Skill Factory, comes as part of the BBC’s ambition to support and raise the profile of disabled actors. Participants will be tutored in audition and camera technique, acting and business skills, script and character work, as well as working with directors on scenes for their showreels.

Disabled actors are invited to apply for the intensive three-day workshop, which will be followed by the opportunity to build their contacts and showcase their talents to professionals across the industry. The showcase event is designed to encourage all who work with the BBC to draw on the widest possible talent pool.

Shane Allen, Controller, BBC Comedy Commissioning, says: “It is crucial that we have more disabled people represented in our comedy output and bring through new disabled performing talent. This is the most focused and practical way for us to unearth and nurture the talents out there who are looking for this career break.

Piers Wenger, Controller of BBC Drama, says: “This exciting new initiative will provide disabled actors with some of the finest training the BBC has to offer and give them the best possible chance to compete for opportunities. Successful participants will be exposed to a host of industry contacts and will work on creating a great showreel to boost their career.

Alison Walsh, Pan-BBC Disability Lead, says: “On-screen portrayal of disability is increasing on the BBC but disabled actors are still struggling to find a place - especially in roles not written specifically as disabled. Although this scheme doesn’t guarantee work, it will provide training opportunities and exposure for new talent as well as established actors who have yet to have their ‘big break’. Crucially it will provide a wake-up call to drama creators that they need to work harder to consider disabled acting talent for all productions - not just those with a disability theme.

To apply for the training programme, disabled actors are invited to submit a self-taped audition not exceeding two minutes in length. The training, run by ThinkBigger, will be held from 2-4 October 2017. Application details are available here.

The BBC has set challenging new 2020 targets for disabled people (8 percent all staff, 8 percent leadership and 8 percent on screen and in some lead roles) which go wider and further than ever before, which aim to ensure our content reflects the public we serve.