Rights of disabled actors

I am a physically challenged member of ACTRA Toronto. I rely on a scooter and a walker for mobility.

My story is the story of disabled ACTRA union members across this country.Disabled ACTRA members are missing out on job opportunities in the Canadian film and television industry as a result of television and film productions not being made accessible. When you see a physically disabled character in a movie or a television show they are usually being played by an able-bodied ACTRA union member who is only pretending to be disabled. This saves television and movie productions the time and money that it would take to make sets accessible to those of us who are genuinely disabled. ACTRA promotes diversity and inclusion on the large and small screen, but the union has been working at cross-purposes in regards to including physically disabled ACTRA members in the film and television industry workplace. ACTRA supplies the able-bodied ACTRA members who pretend to be disabled to the producers who aren’t making their sets accessible to disabled people like myself. . Disabled ACTRA members are getting left out of the making of the picture as a result. That leaves us dealing with the consequences of chronic unemployment. There’s no sense of urgency on the part of ACTRA or the producers to change the status quo because they aren’t adversely affected by the status quo. The work is getting done and the television shows and movies are getting made without us. We are ‘there’ in the union, but we are nowhere near ‘there’ on set. The odds of a physically challenged ACTRA member securing employment in the precarious Canadian film and television industry are obviously much lower than those of an able-bodied ACTRA member. It would be entirely unreasonable for anyone to suggest otherwise, and yet ACTRA, my union, is doing exactly that with its horribly unfair ‘attachment to the workplace’ rule. ACTRA’s ‘attachment to the workplace’ rule stipulates that every ACTRA member must have worked a certain number of days during a current IPA and NCA to be eligible to vote on an upcoming IPA and NCA.Every ACTRA union member in good standing is eligible to work under an IPA and an NCA. IPA = Independent Production Agreement. NCA = National Commercial Agreement. As any chronically unemployed person will tell you, being eligible to work is not the same as being employed. I have not worked the required number of days that I need to vote on the upcoming IPA or on an upcoming NCA. That was through no fault of my own. I have always been available and more than willing to work. Disabled ACTRA members don’t have any control over whether or not ACTRA sanctioned television and film productions make their sets accessible to disabled ACTRA members. We certainly can’t be blamed for the producers’ failure to do what needs to be done to allow disabled union members to participate in the production of movies, television shows and commercials in Canada.We definitely can’t be blamed for able-bodied ACTRA members getting hired to pretend to be disabled characters in Canadian movies, television shows, and commercials for the sake of saving the time and money that it would take to of make sets accessible. This raises the question: Why is ACTRA, my union, treating disabled ACTRA union members as if they have the same chance of getting work as an able-bodied ACTRA union member ? It’s cruel and unfair of ACTRA to deny disabled ACTRA members the right to vote on an IPA and an NCA on the basis of how much work we aren’t getting. How can we get work on movies, tv shows, and commercials that aren’t accessible to us? ACTRA’s ‘attachment to the workplace’ rule was brought to ACTRA National Council less than a year ago where it was debated, considered and passed. An unfair rule that was passed by ACTRA National Council can also be removed by ACTRA National Council. That rule can and should be removed immediately. There is nothing stopping ACTRA from doing the right thing for those of us who have been wronged and are being wronged by an unfair rule.

Introduce Yourself (Example Post)

This is an example post, originally published as part of Blogging University. Enroll in one of our ten programs, and start your blog right.

You’re going to publish a post today. Don’t worry about how your blog looks. Don’t worry if you haven’t given it a name yet, or you’re feeling overwhelmed. Just click the “New Post” button, and tell us why you’re here.

Why do this?

  • Because it gives new readers context. What are you about? Why should they read your blog?
  • Because it will help you focus you own ideas about your blog and what you’d like to do with it.

The post can be short or long, a personal intro to your life or a bloggy mission statement, a manifesto for the future or a simple outline of your the types of things you hope to publish.

To help you get started, here are a few questions:

  • Why are you blogging publicly, rather than keeping a personal journal?
  • What topics do you think you’ll write about?
  • Who would you love to connect with via your blog?
  • If you blog successfully throughout the next year, what would you hope to have accomplished?

You’re not locked into any of this; one of the wonderful things about blogs is how they constantly evolve as we learn, grow, and interact with one another — but it’s good to know where and why you started, and articulating your goals may just give you a few other post ideas.

Can’t think how to get started? Just write the first thing that pops into your head. Anne Lamott, author of a book on writing we love, says that you need to give yourself permission to write a “crappy first draft”. Anne makes a great point — just start writing, and worry about editing it later.

When you’re ready to publish, give your post three to five tags that describe your blog’s focus — writing, photography, fiction, parenting, food, cars, movies, sports, whatever. These tags will help others who care about your topics find you in the Reader. Make sure one of the tags is “zerotohero,” so other new bloggers can find you, too.

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