RJ Mitte says it is time to end the stigma surrounding disability

RJ Mitte, who played Walt Jr in the critically acclaimed series Breaking Bad, has been speaking to BBC Ouch about ending the stigma surrounding disability.

RJ recently took time out to share his story with a group of young disabled people – including some aspiring actors and actresses – at a Scope project, which aims to give people the confidence to break into the workplace. The session was hosted by Channel 4 disability lead Alison Walsh. Below are some highlights from the event:

Starting on Breaking Bad

Playing a range of disabilities in his career

What drove him to want to succeed

People thinking he got his job because of being disabled

This is an issue that is hugely important to Scope.  Speaking as C4 launched a new diversity strategy, Scope’s chief executive Richard Hawkes, summed it up:

“Attitudes to disability must improve. Often it’s simply down to people not knowing a disabled person and not understanding what it’s like to be disabled. That’s why representation on TV is so important.

“Channel 4 have led the way in getting more disabled people on and off screen. But we have some way to go until disability really breaks through into the mainstream. We need the creative industries to give disabled talent the opportunity to show what they can do.”

Scope research shows:

  • Nearly half of the British public (43%) do not personally know anyone who is disabled.
  • Two-thirds (66%) said that they would worry about speaking about disability in front of a disabled person, with many worrying they would say something inappropriate or use an offensive term by mistake.
  • 9 in 10 disabled people believe that more disabled people in the media would improve attitudes to disability – highlighting the importance of increased exposure of disabled people in the creative industries.

You can find out more information about the event RJ is hosting. For the latest film content on disability from Scope, please subscribe to our YouTube channel.

Why I believe in inclusive education – #100days100stories

Guest post from Mima from London, who took part in our First Impressions, First Experiences employment programme and is now aiming for university. Mima uses an electric wheelchair, and types on an iPad to communicate.

When Mima was in secondary school she spent some time at a special school. The lessons at the school were not at the right level for her, and she’s since developed a strong belief that disabled and non-disabled students should learn together whenever possible. Here, she shares her story as part of our 100 days, 100 stories campaign.

I’m hoping to go to university to study sociology and religious studies. I loved sociology when I did it at A-level – you can really look into society and see how it works. I’m especially interested in disabled people’s rights and education.

Inclusive education

I have a very strong belief in inclusive education. I went to a mainstream primary school, but then I went to a special school between the ages of 11 and 14.

It wasn’t right for me at all. I wanted to learn and do my exams, and we were singing ‘Ten Green Bottles!’ I wasn’t learning anything.

When I was 14, I moved to a mainstream school. It was much better – I could do my exams as normal, and I was much happier. I loved it even then, but now I appreciate it even more. My year group was a family unit to me – some of my best friends are from school.

I worked with the same personal assistant at school for seven years, and I did A-levels in psychology and sociology.

I tried university from January to July, but it didn’t work out. The atmosphere wasn’t a good place to learn, and to be honest I was quite lonely. There were people I thought were friends, but they weren’t.

After the summer holidays I decided not to go back. I felt depressed, my confidence was quite low. I was doubting myself quite a lot after uni. It was the biggest disappointment of my life.

First Impressions

Young disabled woman working at a desk
Mima at work at Scope’s offices

My career advisor told me about an employability course called First Impressions, First Experiences. I started in September 2014.

We learnt how to present ourselves; how to prepare for interviews. We did mock interviews, which were quite intimidating – I failed my first interview, but I passed my second! I feel much more confident for job interviews in the future.

The most important thing was making a great group of friends. They are my best mates. We still talk nearly every day on Facebook.

I learnt to be more self-confident. I feel more empowered as a young disabled woman, and it feels awesome!

As part of the course, I also went on placement. I went on a work placement at Scope for three weeks in their campaigns department. I learnt that there’s so much that goes into a campaign – so many little things – and that now it’s much quicker to get messages out there via social media. I designed my own campaign on inclusive education.

I’m volunteering at my old special school now. I want to work in special educational needs, as a teacher. I want to inspire the kids. I want them to know they can make the same journey as me.

Find out more about 100 days, 100 stories, and read the rest of the stories so far.