BBC's Class Act leads to all participants securing auditions

Class Act training and showcase has helped all of its participants secure auditions

The BBC's ‘Class Act: a nationwide search and skill factory’ programme was launched earlier this year, and we now have a positive update to share.

The BBC’s training programme for disabled actors has led to all 32 participants successfully securing BBC auditions. The programme aimed to support and raise the profile of disabled actors. The programme included an intensive three-day workshop for the selected participants, who include experienced actors as well as up and coming talent. They received advice in audition and camera technique, acting and business skills, script and character work, as well as working with directors on their showreels.

Ruth Madeley, star of the BBC’s BAFTA award winning ‘Don't Take My Baby’, and a guest speaker at BBC Class Act who has spina bifida, said:

I think worrying about it being a tick-box exercise is something that every disabled actor does fear. Having that fear that I’ve only been picked for a role because I’m in a wheelchair or I have a disability. Another big challenge is you think you’ll be typecast as only being able to play the disabled roles. These people here have all proven that’s not the case, they’re able to play anything and everything – they are actors and that’s what they do. I think that’s a massive challenge that’s hopefully been knocked on the head a bit with things like this. The fact that this three-day workshop has been put on is an incredible opportunity for people to be in front of directors and casting people that they never would be able to sit and have a conversation with, and ask questions to, without a situation like this – this is key for them. This isn’t an easy industry to be in, but when you feel the progress and you get where you’re going there’s nothing better. The best thing about it is being able to change people’s perceptions for me and make that change, make people challenge everything they ever thought about disability, and I’m excited to keep doing that.
Ruth Madeley

On-screen portrayal of disability is increasing with more disabled performers represented across the BBC’s output and platforms. Recent examples include BBC Three’s ‘A Brief History of Tim’, BBC One drama ‘Silent Witness’ and sitcom ‘Ability’ on BBC Radio 4.

Mark Beer, a BBC Class Act participant who has second degree cerebral palsy, said:

Everybody is in the same boat - everybody has some sort of physical or sensory disability and they desperately want to get their stories heard, their abilities seen and to be out there within the media. To see so many people with obvious disabilities that are very visible, and some invisible, with loads and loads of talent is terribly exciting. And what’s inspiring is that all of us have come on this journey together and there is strength in numbers and strength in finding a voice. And we’ve all done that now. It’s been a wonderful experience and I’ve learnt a lot. The casting directors, the directors, the producers have these tapes and the knowledge that there are talented disabled actors and actresses out there, so it’s time for them to use them now.
Mark Beer

The actors also got the opportunity to build their contacts and showcase their talents to professionals across the industry, leading to them all being offered auditions by Julia Crampsie, Casting Executive at BBC Studios.

The BBC has set challenging new diversity targets, with this training part of their commitment to improve representation on screen to 8% by 2020.

Quotes from BBC Class Act.