Micah Fowler of Speechless talks disability representation on TV

We spoke to Speechless's Micah Fowler about being one of the few disabled actors on TV. Here's what he had to say.

Photo: American Broadcasting Companies

As fans of the groundbreaking TV hit comedy Speechless gear up for a second season, we chat with Micah Fowler who plays the lead role of JJ DiMeo, a teen with cerebral palsy.

TP: What has your experience been like working on Speechless, as a disabled actor playing a disabled character? 

MF: Really incredible! Not only has it let me live out my dream of being an actor but it has allowed me to bring perspective and touch so many lives. I know I’ve been given an incredible platform to represent the disabled community and continuously hope to make them proud.

Illustration of a mother and daughter surrounded by speech bubbles. Daughter is looking at her mother
Please treat my daughter like she’s human
TP: Does the DiMeo family resemble your own family in real life? And how good a job overall does Speechless do representing disabled kids and their families?

MF: When I first read the script, I thought I was reading something based on my life and my family. It was so crazy! I’ve had lots of other families tell me they are so excited and thrilled to finally feel really represented.

TP: What are your thoughts on how disabled teenagers and kids have been depicted in other TV shows to date?

MF: I think a lot of how we’ve seen disability depicted causes viewers to feel that having a disability is the end of someone’s happiness, and anyone living a successful life with a disability should be hailed as an inspiration. That’s just not the case; it’s really just a different way of living, conquering challenges and pursuing dreams.

TP: What responses have you had from the disability community to your performance as JJ?

MF: I’ve had moms tell me that siblings are now proud of their disabled brother or sister instead of ashamed. People tell me that their kids have finally started using their AAC [Augmentative and alternative communication] devices to communicate like JJ. Adults with disabilities tell me how much it means to finally be accurately represented after all these years. It’s really incredible and I’m so proud to be a part of it.

Season 2 of Speechless premieres Friday Sept 29th at 9:30pmET/8:30pmCT on City.

Read more:
TV: Why I love Speechless, but I won’t be watching Atypical
How becoming a big sister gave my daughter with special needs a big confidence boost

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