BOSTON (AP) – In Peter Farrelly's 2018 Oscar-winning movie "Green Book," driver Tony Lip jokes, "The world is full of lonely people afraid to make the first move."
Neither Farrelly nor his brother Bobby Farrelly, director of 1998's "There's Something About Mary", fits this description. Both are being recognized for repeatedly and publicly pressuring Hollywood to do a better job of climbing and portraying people with disabilities.
The Boston-based Ruderman Family Foundation, one of the leading voices advocating for more opportunities for the disabled, said Wednesday that the brothers are the recipients of the sixth annual Morton E. Ruderman Award for Inclusion.
The foundation told the Associated Press that it chose the Farrellys for their sincere efforts to make films more inclusive and authentic. They will receive the prize next spring.
"When you tell a story, you want it to happen in the real world – and it's not a real world if it doesn't include everyone," said Peter Farrelly, who co-wrote and directed the "Green Book," which won best Oscar. movie and best original screenplay.
Bobby Farrelly recalled how the brothers played with children with disabilities in the neighborhood where they grew up in Cumberland, Rhode Island, just beyond the Massachusetts border.
“They made us laugh. They were our friends, ”he said in a video message.
"So when we started making movies, we thought, why wouldn't we include people with disabilities in the movies – in the stories we tell – because they are part of our lives."
The brothers collaborated on other hit films, including "Dumb and Dumber", "Me, Myself & Irene" and "The Heartbreak Kid".
Ruderman says his research shows that only 5% of the characters on major TV shows are played by actors with disabilities. In fact, says Peter Farrelly, 20% of the US population has some form of disability.
He says Hollywood, meanwhile, often portrays people with disabilities in a way that "perpetuates misconceptions and stereotypes."
The foundation works for more inclusion and opportunities for the disabled. Past winners of the award include Olympic swimming champion Michael Phelps, Oscar-winning actress Marlee Matlin and former US Democratic Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa, a driving force behind the Americans with Disabilities Act.
“Despite its immense leadership potential in inclusion, social justice and civil rights, Hollywood has long left disability out of the diversity conversation. But change agents like the Farrelly brothers are indispensable actors in efforts to change the conversation, ”said foundation president Jay Ruderman.
Actor Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, a founding board member, is also asking Hollywood to pick more actors with disabilities.
Follow Bill Kole on Twitter at https://twitter.com/billkole.
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