Over my time here at Pop Culture Uncovered, I’ve brought you a few articles about disability & the geek community. Some of those have been pretty heavy, and some of them have been lighthearted. Today, however, I want to take a moment to bring to you what I believe is a celebration. A celebration of an actual disabled actor finally getting a featured role on network TV.
ABC has recently confirmed that they’ve picked up a new comedy series featuring an actor with cerebral palsy (CP), which is reported to begin production this fall. Speechless stars Micah Fowler in the role of JJ DiMeo, a nonverbal teenager with CP, and the oldest of the three kids in his family. Minnie Driver will be ‘Maya’ – JJ’s “mom on a mission”, who (according to ABC’s description of the show) “fights injustices both real and imagined” while her family “works to make a new home for themselves, and searches for just the right person to give JJ his ‘voice’.” The cast will be rounded out with John Ross Bowie as Driver’s husband, Kyla Kennedy as the middle child, and Mason Cook as the youngest.
Initially, ABC had committed to airing the pilot for Speechless in January 2017, but the network has now said that production will get underway in August of this year, and they are contracting an “unspecified number of episodes”.
In a recent statement to TheMighty.com, Micah Fowler said the following:
I am honored to have the opportunity to play the role of a down-to-earth normal teen living with the challenges of cerebral palsy… I hope as people watch “Speechless,” they get to know JJ as a very normal person, to the point that they don’t even see the disability. I specifically hope to bring a huge amount of public awareness to cerebral palsy and most importantly, my hope is that the show will make people less uncomfortable around people with disabilities and more encouraged to interact with them, to look beyond the physical or other limitation and see the real person, the heart, the personality, the love and yes, even the humor.
ABC has already developed a trailer for the show, so check it out: