American Horror Story’s Mat Fraser says TV opportunities for disabled people are “minimal and pathetic”
American Horror Story star Mat Fraser has spoken up about the inadequate opportunities for disabled actors on television.
Fraser starred in AHS’s Freak Show as Paul the Illustrated Seal Boy and is also about to become the first disabled actor to play the villainous Richard III in a new stage adaptation of Shakespeare’s play. However, the actor has argued that opportunities for disabled entertainers in the industry are nowhere near where they should be.
“In terms of opportunity for disabled people, there are four more people on telly than there were 20 years ago. Excuse me for not having a party,” Fraser told BBC News.
“If I didn’t have the experience, I wouldn’t be asked to be doing damned Richard III, you know? If people didn’t think I could act, no-one would let me near the role. But can I get a look-in in any of the BBC dramas? Can I hell.”
Talking about his role as the anti-hero in Richard III, Fraser highlighted how disabled people are never usually cast as villains due to oversensitivity.
He explained: “Disabled people are where black people were in the ’80s. They can’t be baddies. People [in the TV industry] are too politically correct. But they’re not ready to give us the hero role yet. So we get no role.”
Fraser referred to the limited appearances from disabled figures on each channel, remarking how Channel 4’s The Last Leg “doesn’t impress” him.
“BBC are alright. ITV are okay. I mean it’s minimal and pathetic, but they have something… something I can hold on to. What have I got on Channel 4? Some damned lad who’s on The Last Leg. Woo. Doesn’t impress me, mate.
“And as for those panels – I’ve been doing panels since 1996 about trying to get disabled actors in. I’m just done with panels. Jobs not panels.”
American Horror Story is available to view on Netflix.