Mitchell, who has worked in Hollywood since 1990, was paralyzed in a motorcycle accident in 2001.
The audience sees actor Daryl “Chill” Mitchell in his wheelchair on shows like “NCIS: New Orleans” or “Fear the Walking Dead” and assumes that he is playing a role. It’s easy to see why Mitchell, who has played in Hollywood since 1990, was paralyzed in a motorcycle accident in 2001 and his roles are still rotating a lot on television before his accident. But being a capable performer set a precedent for Mitchell, enabling him to be one of the few late-life actors to transition to an equally successful career after an accident.
In the immediate aftermath of his accident, there were certainly concerns about Hollywood’s keeping Mitchell. He told how he was back on national television just four months after his accident in the series “Ed”. “I sat down to meet with the producers. They were nervous about even seeing me because they said, “What are we going to tell him?” Mitchell told IndieWire. “I’ve just started explaining some of the fun things that have happened to me since I sat in a chair [and] It was like, ‘Man, you got the job.’ “
Mitchell understands his privilege to be a once capable actor. There is certainly a distance between people with disabilities like him and those who were born disabled. “When I speak on behalf of the disabled community, I often feel, ‘Man, you are not disabled long enough to be the speaker,’ he said, but that forced him more to use his platform to advocate for disability rights in general – and his voice is necessary.
Given the shortage of disabled people, especially those with disabilities, Mitchell’s success shows that more stories about disabled people are needed. For Mitchell, losing a role to a seasoned actor is not just a loss for the performer, just because of the stairs, but for the entire production. “I asked her once [the producers] come down. I didn’t get the job, but I set a precedent, ”he said.
“I still do things to make things accessible to me, and that’s because, as a black man, I’ve already faced adversity in the business. There were a lot of things that I had to dance around to make things work for me, ”he said. Mitchell has his own ramped Winnebago so he can relax. He also travels with his two sons who can help with any physical treatment. But more importantly, Mitchell makes a kit that is understanding disability.
© 20thCentFox / Courtesy Everett Collection
On the set of NCIS: New Orleans, Mitchell explains that every crew member understands how to work with them and has absolutely no qualms about helping with anything from broadcasting to creating accessible chairs and other tools to improve their performance . “Why can’t you [the industry] do that for everyone else? “he said. Mitchell explains that the accessibility he uses will ultimately benefit the rest of the production, like those on set using push cameras, carts, and other wheeled items. In the end, it should be what Mitchell was talking about his disability requires not to be controversial in the grand scheme of things. “[Hollywood] pays all this money to get certain actors out of jail or put them into rehab, but when I ask for an easy ramp don’t give me a problem, ”he said.
Mitchell stated that a lot of the conversations we are currently having about disability are not much different from the discussions about black inclusion in Hollywood. Disability “is something unusual that they normally don’t have to deal with,” he said. “The conversation you and I have is still the same thing about racing in America.” Mitchell said it is up to the showrunners and other rulers to work with disabled performers, talk to each other, and say that working with a disabled performer is no different from any other actor.
“It’s your job and your campaign and making someone else feel easy. Or at least plant that seed in her head, ”he said. “When Steven Spielberg worked with me and he says to another great producer that they’re going to say, ‘Well, Steven worked with him and I’m going to give him a chance. What’s the worst that can happen? ‘”
Mitchell said that it is definitely the beginning of a new era in terms of actors with disabilities. In the case of NCIS: New Orleans, the show works with a large pool of disabled artists – but there is still a lot to do. Mitchell understands that for many people, participating in one of the two most iconic franchises on television means the audience may be exposed to a disabled artist for the first time. “I am honored to be the first you see. What I don’t like is being the only one they keep seeing, ”he said.
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