“I feel like the guy who lost all his hair and then lost all his strength.” “Samson?” “No, Agassi.”
One liners and musical numbers abounded on last night’s episode of Glee, as they do every week. But what made last night’s episode special was a guest appearance by Zack Weinstein. A 2009 Skidmore graduate made his Glee debut on last night’s episode “Laryngitis” as a football player who has suffered a spinal cord injury. The episode examines how we cope when we lose what we think matters most about ourselves.
For 24 year old Zack Weinstein, this hits very close to home. He, like his character, has quadriplegia as a result of a spinal cord injury he suffered between his freshmen and sophomore years in acting school. Refusing to give up on his dream of acting, he continued acting school and graduated in 2009. The opportunity to appear on Glee is incredible for any actor, but for actors with disabilities it reignites debate over what opportunities exist for them in Hollywood.
This is not the first time Glee has come under the microscope of the disability community. Disability activists spoke out against the decision to cast able bodied actor Kevin McHale as the character of Artie, who is a wheelchair user. With the decision to cast Zack Weinstein on the show, most activists are happy to see the show take a step in the right direction toward representing actors with disabilities. Some still feel that they would like to see an actor with a disability cast in a role in which that person’s disability or mobility equipment is not mentioned.
Zack Weinstein’s perspective on the matter?
“I just believe that everyone should have an equal opportunity to try for parts, whether they’re able-bodied or disabled,” Weinstein says. “And the best actor – whoever that is – should get it.”
What is your take on Fox and the show Glee? Does it represent people with disabilities in a positive light? Do you think able bodied actors should be cast as characters with disabilities? Does Fox have an obligation to cast more actors with disabilities?
Please let us know what you think in the comments section below.