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Access Center

Disability Representation in Film

Did you know that disabled people are still among the most underrepresented people in Hollywood, even though they're statistically 1 billion disabled people on the planet? Did you know in 2019, only 2.3% of principal characters in the top 100 grossing U.S films were depicted with a disability?

And did you know nearly 80 percent of all disabled roles on the small screen were played by non disabled actors?

This talk will explore how disability is represented in media, especially in the film industry on screen and behind the screen, and why it is so important for disabled people, but also for non disabled people to see. And not just through the stories that are told, but also by who tells them. Kelsey will show examples of representation she loves and where there needs to be change. As an actor herself she has personal experience with the film industry and will tell her stories and what she has experienced. However, we won’t just focus on the facts and what has happened, but how we can also actively change this whether you are involved in the film industry or not.

There will be room for others to share their experiences and questions, and this will be a positive, uplifting, yet educational talk on this topic.

Kelsey in a red dress with red hearts on her face, winking.

Kelsey Ellison

Kelsey Ellison is an actor, dancer and online influencer who creates content around her creative endeavours, disability and LGBTQ life. As a young child she became withdrawn after having surgery to remove her right eye due to retinoblastoma, but after showing confidence in dance, she was taken to lessons and hasn’t looked back since. At 11 she began acting lessons and then she went on to be granted a scholarship to train at SLP College Leeds. She graduated with a Trinity Diploma in Musical Theatre, along with “Most Promising Performer” award from David Needham.

While studying at SLP, Kelsey also started to gain traction on her YouTube channel where she posted dancing, singing and vlogs. This then expanded to other social media such as Instagram and Tiktok. She currently has a total of 600,000 followers online.

One of her biggest passions is acting and creating film projects. Outside of the online world, she has played a Wormwood child in Solo: A Star Wars Story (small speaking role), has supported Drag Queen Shangela as a dancer (ESDR Bristol Pride Dancing Hermione) and recent stage work includes playing Ollie Walker in the Cloak and Dagger Tour (London).

One of her recent achievements includes producing her first short film based in the world of Harry Potter. The film has gained over 7 million views organically and won “Best Film” award, voted for by the fans in “The Leaky Cauldron Awards.” She has also recently collaborated with activist, model and actor Rain Dove (who is also their partner) and film maker Petros L.Ioannou to create a piece advocating for disabled actors to be considered for disabled roles. The campaign so far has gained over 1 million views, which is a great achievement but Kelsey says the work has only just begun…