"The media needs to recognise disabled stories."

Bryony Moss is a South Asian disabled actor, model and disability advocate. For International Day of Disabled People, she writes about wanting to see better representation in media.

When I was younger, I would not have identified as being disabled. I didn’t have the confidence to be like, 'this is me.' But now I'm okay with it and proudly use the word to describe myself.

When you’re disabled, people think you must be, look, and speak a certain way or not able to do certain things. I'm determined to shift these attitudes because I regularly face negativity online due to my conditions, and I know people have a lot to learn.
To change these attitudes, I believe there needs to be more representation of people with invisible disabilities in the media. There’s so little awareness of the conditions and impairments we have. A lot of people have never heard of cerebral palsy. Some people haven't even heard of dyslexia, so that was a big wow to me. But it's no wonder when disabled people are so underrepresented in the media. 
I think the media sector needs to give greater recognition to disabled people and disabled stories, considering we make up around 24% of the population. But despite our presence in real life, representation of disabled people in TV and film remains notably scarce. 

One of the main reasons I became an actor and why I wanted to join this industry was because growing up I didn't see people like me on TV. This lack of representation really affected my mental health and the way I aw myself.

Growing up I’d often ask family “what’s wrong with me?” and “why can’t I just be normal?”

In my view, poor representation in TV and film is when actors without disabilities play disabled characters. I also find it troubling when disabled characters are portrayed as “burdens” in the storyline. Witnessing this makes me feel deeply upset. It makes me worry that I might be perceived as such and apologise for simply being myself.

But I really want to help make things better. I'm a big believer that TV, film, and media should reflect everyone in our society. We're all unique and that's something to celebrate! So, if I can make a difference for just one person, I'll feel like I've done my part.

Every audition I land feels like a win, getting us closer to a more inclusive society.

To me, good disability representation in TV or film means having characters who are disabled yet their disability isn't the whole spotlight of the story. Sex Education nails this perfectly. There's this one episode that focusses on accessibility. I think it’s great because it shined a light on what disabled people go through, opening up conversations about different accessibility issues.
I acted in the short film TYPICAL, directed by Sarah Leigh, who is the founder of Inclusivity Films. Being part of that project meant a lot to me. Inclusivity Films is dedicated to having 50% of our cast and crew as people who identify as Deaf, disabled, or neurodivergent. This really struck me and made me incredibly happy to be a part of the project.

Their aim is to genuinely represent disability both on and off the screen. They're all about having disabled actors play roles where their disability isn't the central focus of the story. They're big on making sets fully accessible and collaborating with others to ensure that. They're all about breaking down barriers in the industry, pushing for fairness, and championing inclusion.

TYPICAL focused on debunking stereotypes about disabled people. It provided a platform for me and the other participants to authentically share our stories. That’s part of why acting brings me joy and boosts my confidence. 

It feels so good being part of the solution.

I've got a few more acting projects coming up, which I’m excited about. I love the positive comments I get from people. I get comments like, 'If you can do that, then I can do what I want to do, so thank you for giving me the confidence.'  
I've helped them to see that just because something has happened or you’re different, it doesn't mean you can't achieve what you want to achieve. So, it's all really positive.

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