Every listing for an audition to work as a performer for the Disney Parks in some capacity ends with that phrase, “Drawing Creativity through Diversity.” One of the roles particularly called to me, a role which required an adult woman to play an 11-year-old girl. This particular show is on one of the cruise ships, so they can’t have a child playing the role. Very little was given about the story itself, but the idea was the 11-year-old girl would go through a journey in which using her imagination and believing in her dreams would allow them to come true.
I think this is the perfect role for a woman in a wheelchair. It does help that even without using hair, costume, and make up to make me look younger I are ready look like a 15-year-old girl. Right now, they are almost no shows which feature someone in a wheelchair whose dream isn’t to walk again. Even in “Wicked,” Nessarose goes from a girl in a wheelchair due having magic shoes that let her walk. I would love to see a show in which an 11-year-old girl in a wheelchair gets her dreams, none of which involve walking.
Why can’t a girl in a wheelchair meet princesses, be involved in magic, conquer fears and dangers, and do it all in a chair? But even while Disney wishes to “draw creativity through diversity” they almost never wish to do it with their protagonist in a wheelchair.
There is a performer in a wheelchair in the Aladdin show in Disney California Adventure. She has been performing at Disney for nearly 10 years. She is amazingly talented, and is an amazing person as well. Since she began performing at Disney, they have created probably a dozen new stage performances which have come and gone. And somehow, they have never used her considerable talents in any other show. I understand that not all shows need a soprano in a wheelchair, but if I were Disney I would’ve built a show around her a long time ago.
I wish the audition for that cruise line show were close. Unfortunately, it is in New York while I am in California. I know they would not choose me, no matter how talented I am. People in wheelchairs, whether they actually use the wheelchair or are just acting, don’t get leading roles. And if a role has not been written for a wheelchair, I doubt most casting directors would think that a person in a wheelchair could actually do that role.
In short, I think it would break their little minds to even consider putting me and my wheelchair in the role of the 11-year-old, even if I as a person are the best qualified. (I am not saying that I am the best qualified, this is purely hypothetical)
I applaud Disney for hiring the woman in the Aladdin show. And who knows? Maybe I am selling Disney short. Maybe they really would choose an actress in a wheelchair to play the lead role. I guess I just don’t believe anyone, even Disney, has come far enough to cast an actress in a wheelchair in a role that is not about the wheelchair.