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CBS commits to ‘meaningful representation’ for performers with disabilities on TV

Paramount Global-owned US broadcast network CBS has launched an initiative that aims to increase opportunities for performers with disabilities in its TV shows.

Claudia Lyon

Beginning in the 2022/23 broadcast season, the CBS Performers With Disabilities Talent Initiative will seek to give historically underrepresented performers increased opportunities on television.

It aims to see more performers with disabilities in regular, guest star or co-starring roles in current series and pilots, playing characters specifically written with a disability as well as roles that do not specify one.

As part of the new initiative, CBS has created an expanded database of performers with disabilities in consultation with advocacy groups, outreach, independent research and open calls. CBS said it applied these new resources in the 2022/23 broadcast and pilot season and is actively rolling them out across Paramount Global brands.

The new initiative joins the network’s previous commitments and goals to improve inclusion and representation among underrepresented groups and people of colour in writer rooms, casting and new series creation and development.

In 2019, CBS was the first network to sign the Ruderman Family Foundation’s pledge to increase the audition opportunities for performers with disabilities and improve the portrayal of disabilities in television by increasing the number of roles that cast actors with disabilities.

“By focusing on professional growth and supporting these performers, this initiative helps to provide opportunities and much-needed exposure in the industry,” said Claudia Lyon, executive VP of talent and casting at CBS Entertainment.

“There are so many talented performers available who are often overlooked and are not being considered for roles, so our goal with this initiative is to help bridge that gap.

“The CBS casting department is looking forward to increasing visibility for performers with disabilities on screen in all roles while also increasing authentic representation on the network and Paramount Global brands.”


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