RJ Mitte, Stephanie Gould Envision Better Roles for Actors with Disabilities

On this podcast, two actors imagine how the arts could better represent a highly overlooked minority.

RJ Mitte Stephanie Gould
RJ Mitte and Stephanie Gould. Photos: Erica Bergsmeds, Giancarlo Osaben

In this episode of The Scene, I’m joined by actors RJ Mitte and Stephanie Gould for a conversation about how the acting world can become more inclusive for actors with disabilities. Mitte is best known for his role as Walter White’s son, Walter Jr., on Breaking Bad, for which he earned a Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series; other credits include Switched at Birth, The Recall, Time Share and River Runs Red. He covered the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games for Britain’s Channel 4 and is active as a public speaker and advocate for the rights of people with disabilities. Gould plays Carmen Campos on Orange Is the New Black and has also appeared on The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. She performs regularly in NYC theater and stars in the upcoming Bernie and Mikey’s Trip to the Moon, opening this month at 59E59 Theaters and presented by Strangemen Theatre Company.

As actors with cerebral palsy, Mitte and Gould describe their experiences working in an industry that rarely tells stories about disability even as it prides itself on expanding diversity. As Gould notes, nearly 20% of people live with some form of disability, yet fewer than 2% of onscreen characters have disabilities and nearly all of them are played by able-bodied actors.

I personally learned a lot from my conversations with Mitte and Gould, both about how we define disability and how to think differently about my relationship with my own body, so I hope you’ll listen to the full show and consider sharing it with anyone you think should hear it. Part one of this show will be my interview with Mitte; I speak with Gould for part two.

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