Should a Sighted Actor Play a Blind Character?

Should a Sighted Actor Play a Blind Character?

In March 2019, the National Federation of the Blind, the largest and most politically active blindness organization in the country, announced a protest of the show ‘In the Dark,’ Andrew Leland writes in the New York Times Magazine.

And just before the show’s premiere, the organization staged demonstrations outside the Midtown headquarters of CBS. The reason? A sighted actress was cast in the lead role, a blind character.

Blind protesters stood on the sidewalk, holding canes and signs that read, “Let Us Play Us!”

N.F.B.’s president, Mark Riccobono, said in his announcement of the protest: “There are blind actors looking for work, and no sighted actor, however accomplished or talented, can bring the same insight and authenticity to a blind character.”

Production on the show was already wrapped, but the N.F.B. demanded that the network, the CW, scrap the first season and reshoot it with a blind actor in the lead, replacing Perry Mattfeld. The CW ignored their demands, and so did did CBS Studios, which produces the show. The series premiered on schedule.

‘In the Dark’ just began its third season, and it follows Murphy, a single blind woman in her 20s, through her messy life.

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