Bryony Moss is a disabled actress with cerebral palsy and learning difficulties. Whilst working as a disability advocate on social media, Bryony is currently studying performing arts at college and loves horse riding. We reached out to Bryony for her to share some experiences on how she has overcome challenges being a disabled student and continued to develop her acting career despite its difficulties. We hope this article can inspire others who need encouragement and want to understand the industry from the perspective of somebody who has a disability.
When did you start acting?
I started acting back in 2016 at my local Stagecoach Performing Arts School. I got into acting as I read an article about how Performing Arts can help people with mental health conditions and since then I’ve never looked back. I am now a youth theatre member of an inclusive theatre company called The Theatre Shed. Back in 2019 I performed at Edinburgh Fringe Festival with The Theatre Shed.
Where did you train as an performer?
My training began at my local Stagecoach Performing Arts School back in 2016. I found it really hard to get onto a performing arts course at college. However after years of not giving up I was accepted onto Performing Arts Level 2 at Berkshire college of Agriculture. I am now a first year student on their Level 3 Course. In the future I may look into how I can get into Drama School.
What are your favourite roles you have played?
I have no professional credits however I did really enjoy playing Gerda in The Snow Queen in The Theatre Sheds Christmas Production in 2018. I would love to get professional credits and be an actor in TV and Film. I do have a dream list of all the shows I wish to be in my career. For example I would l love to be in Call the Midwife, Bridgerton and Maleficent to name a few.
What is your favourite film?
I love Mamma Mia and Mamma Mia 2 you will probably hear me singing the songs and dancing too. It’s such a happy film and it always puts a smile on my face. When we watched it at the cinema I was singing away and didn’t want the film to end.
Who is your favourite performer?
I have quite a few favourites however if I hear of anything featuring the actress Alison Steadman then your definitely see me watching it. I love watching her as I find the way she adapts to playing different characters really interesting and I love learning from her too.
What do you do in your free time when you’re not acting?
When I’m not acting and not doing college work I love to take my dog Mango out on walks. I enjoy writing content for my blog. I have recently started a YouTube channel so I’m looking forward to creating content for it. I also love going horse riding at South Bucks RDA I love doing dressage and entering competitions. Riding for the Disabled is a charity very close to my heart as it saved my life. The horses and ponies are like my best friends and the staff and volunteers are just incredible.
When did you become a disability and mental health advocate?
My journey started back in 2017 on Instagram. I wanted to create content showing my everyday life living with my disability and mental health conditions. I wanted others to feel less alone but to also provide resources for their support network. From this I then decided to create a blog too. I also wanted to raise awareness of hidden disabilities as this has affected me all my life. As I don’t look physically disabled, people think I’m “faking it” and this became an issue I discuss on my platforms too.
Do you think there are enough opportunities for disabled performers in the industry?
I think slowly more tv programmes are discussing disabilities, however I do get upset when disabled characters are played by non-disabled actors as I think the programme has really missed out on making their programmes more diverse and by casting a non-disabled person creates a negative atmosphere around disability. This is one of the reasons I wanted to join this industry as I want children to see people like them on their screens because when I was growing up not seeing people like me made a negative impact on my mental health. I also think more diverse casting could really help to lower bullying rates in schools. Also by casting a disabled actor I think helps bring productions to life and are more realistic as I know a lot of people who get upset when a condition they have is portrayed in the media in an unrealistic way. Having said this I feel hidden disabilities are even more underrepresented and this is also another reason that made me want to join this industry as an actor. Sometimes I do wonder if productions really wanted a performer who is non disabled to play a disabled character – why don’t they cast people with hidden disabilities for these roles too.
Have you come up against any challenges as a disabled performer?
I have faced a lot of challenges becoming an actor. I found it really hard to get onto a performing arts course at college because of my disability. It took me a few years to get a yes for being accepted onto a performing arts course. I believe that the industry is missing out on potentially very successful performers because of them having a disability. I think that there should be more schemes in place to encourage more disabled performers into the industry.
Who would you say is making a positive contribution in promoting more opportunities for disabled performers?
Early last year I got myself an agent with iNCLUSIVE Talent. I believe they are making a massive positive contribution in promoting opportunities for disabled actors. As they not only find work for disabled performers but non disabled too. Unlike other agencies that only represented a certain type of person, INCLUSIVE Talent is all about representing everyone together in our community which is amazing because you might think disabled actors are a lot different but we have more in common than you think. I think casting directors should definitely look into having more disabled and people with hidden disabilities audition for more roles and as extras.
How could the whole community help in promoting more diversity of underrepresented groups in the industry?
I think colleges and schools should aim to provide better opportunities for underrepresented groups to join their courses.
I think more storylines should discuss these issues and have true representation rather than having a non disabled person play a disabled character. For example, I think there should be opportunities for people in underrepresented groups to create their own soaps and sitcoms. I definitely have a lot of ideas on what I would love to create into a drama. I think more money should be put into making sure programmes show a true representation of society I think partnerships should be made between companies like Pinewood to help show diversity on our screens. For example collaborating with different agencies to get more disabled and other groups shown on screen.
You can follow Bryony on Instagram: @defeatingdisability