Misrepresentative Casting

In recent years, there has been a growing awareness of the importance of authentic representation in the entertainment industry. Misrepresentative casting, sometimes referred to as “disability drag,” “cripping up,” or “cripface,” is a practice akin to blackface in its implications. It involves non-disabled actors portraying characters with disabilities, perpetuating harmful stereotypes, and excluding disabled actors from authentic representation. This resource aims to educate casting directors in film, TV, and theater on the concept of misrepresentative casting and the importance of inclusive and authentic casting decisions.

What is Misrepresentative Casting?

Misrepresentative casting occurs when non-disabled actors are cast to play characters with disabilities. This practice is problematic for several reasons:

  • Reinforces Stereotypes: Misrepresentative casting often relies on inaccurate and harmful stereotypes, which further marginalize the disability community.
  • Denies Opportunities: By casting non-disabled actors in disabled roles, the industry denies disabled actors the opportunity to portray characters that reflect their own lived experiences.
  • Misses Authenticity: The authenticity of a character’s portrayal is compromised when an actor without a disability attempts to portray a character with one, leading to unrealistic depictions.

Authentic Representation

To promote disability justice and authentic representation, casting directors can take several steps:

  • Disabled Leadership: Involve disabled individuals in the casting process, ensuring that their perspectives and experiences are accurately represented.
  • Prioritize Disabled Actors: Give preference to disabled actors when casting disabled characters, helping to create more authentic and inclusive representations.
  • Advocate for Inclusive Storytelling: Encourage writers and creators to develop authentic and diverse characters with disabilities and disabilities-specific narratives.
  • Awareness and Training: Offer training and resources to industry professionals to foster a better understanding of disability and the importance of authentic representation.


Misrepresentative casting, often referred to as “disability drag” or “cripping up,” is a harmful practice with deep historical roots in the entertainment industry. Recognizing its parallels to blackface and its impact on disabled individuals is essential for promoting authentic and inclusive representation in film, TV, and theater. Casting directors play a crucial role in dismantling these harmful practices and working towards a more equitable and just industry. By prioritizing the inclusion of disabled actors and advocating for authentic storytelling, the industry can evolve and better reflect the diverse experiences of the disability community.

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