General Hospital (GH) has received the Seal Of Authentic Representation, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The award, presented by the Ruderman Family Foundation, recognizes the authentic portrayal of persons with disabilities on television programs.
“Given our belief that inclusion and understanding of all people is essential to a fair and flourishing society, the Foundation’s Seal of Authentic Representation is a simple, yet crucial and indispensable affirmation of those in the entertainment industry who put these values into action,” Jay Ruderman, the foundation’s president, said in a statement.
The honor was given to the ABC soap for casting Maysoon Zayid, a Palestinian actress and comedian who has cerebral palsy. She played Shiloh Archer’s (Coby Ryan McLaughlin) attorney Zahra Amir in several episodes last summer and represented him in the Wiley custody battle. As a lifelong fan of GH, she told a New York Times reporter a year earlier that she’d always wanted to be on the sudser.
“Today is the day! #DreamComeTrue my @generalhospitalabc #GH #GeneralHospital debut!” Zayid posted on her Instagram account at the time.
Statistics from a Ruderman Foundation study show that 95 percent of TV characters who have disabilities are portrayed by non-disabled actors. Ruderman says the foundation hopes to inspire change in Hollywood when casting “actors of all abilities.”
As for GH receiving the award, Executive Producer Frank Valentini is proud of the achievement.
“Our goal has always been to provide stories that are authentic and relatable for our viewers. Having the opportunity to welcome Maysoon Zayid onto the show was exciting for us,” Valentini said. “She is an incredible talent and was a perfect fit to guest-star as Zahra Amir. It takes all kinds of people to tell a story; especially those that are rich and entertaining enough to resonate with our audience.”
Four other shows were also given the seal of authentic representation including two Netflix shows, Tales Of The City and Raising Dion, the Audience show Loudermilk and the BBC and HBO program Years and Years.