VIDEO: Disabled actress criticizes “shameful lack of diversity at the Oscars”

Little Devil

Little Devil

A British indie film puts diversity in the front row by casting a disabled actress in the lead role to reflect her real condition on screen.

“Little Devil” is directed and co-written by London based Max Barber, who is originally from Grays in Essex.

The movie picked up gongs including ‘Best Lead Actress’ for its disabled star at the 2014 Los Angeles Diversity Film Festival.

“Little Devil” is saucy, character-driven feature film about a mischievous, sexually frustrated disabled girl who forms an unorthodox relationship with a troubled, gay male escort. But rather than being a victim of her condition, she uses her disability, Osteogenesis Imperfecta (Brittle Bones), as a cunning advantage in achieving her hidden agenda.

The film stars newcomer, Sam Renke, from Leyland in Lancashire, who has Brittle Bones. She is the first disabled actress to take on a debut lead role in a British independent movie and win awards.

Sam worked closely with the film’s writer, Abraham Papacosta, and its director, Barber, to base some of the plot on her real-life experiences of dating and sexual exploration from the perspective of someone with an abnormal condition, but with very normal sexual desires.

“I’m not a ‘sit at home’ type of girl, I’m very pro-active in raising awareness in what to me, is still a blinkered world at times,” Ms Renke said. “The shameful lack of diversity at the Oscars, again, means that all of us in a perceived ‘minority’ must make a noise and demand change. The world’s population is amazingly varied – something not reflected by The Academy and its white, wealthy, ageing heterosexual male members.”

Playing alongside Ms Renke in the supporting role is black, British actor, DeObia Oparei who is currently making it big in Hollywood.

“Little Devil” is leading the way in raising awareness of Brittle Bones in a frank and entertaining way. It portrays the condition as anything but a disability and it doesn’t need an able-bodied actress pretending to use a wheelchair to do it.

“Little Devil” revolves around the theme of unconventional families and sets out to turn the notion of what constitutes sex and body-diversity on its head. The film is designed to be a poignant, but ultimately, uplifting tale and deliberately sets out to court controversy and debate with its frank scenes and radical casting.

Mr Barber said: “Understandably big star names attract film finance and audiences, but unless you start giving bigger parts to actors who don’t fit the convention, then you won’t get new and diverse talent into the system. I deliberately cast a disabled, up-and-coming actress, Sam, in the lead role, to get people talking, and gave her a powerful and positive character, rather than the stereotype, freak, villain or victim.”

The movie gets its global release exclusively on-line via Distrify this February 2016.

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