Actor in 'The Chosen' praises show’s message for people with disabilities

The Chosen The Chosen/Press image

An actor on the internet show The Chosen, which tells the story of Jesus, praised the show’s accommodation of his disability in his character’s role as an example of inclusion.

The Chosen, an evangelical Christian-produced internet series on the ministry of Jesus, recently returned for its second season, which premiered on Easter Sunday. Among the actors in the series is Jordan Walker Ross, who plays the role of the apostle James the Lesser. 

Speaking to the magazine Deadline, Ross explained that he has “severe scoliosis and minor cerebral palsy,” conditions which manifest themselves through “a pretty noticeable limp, very limited flexibility in my torso and legs.” 

Ross is also only 5 feet, 4 inches tall. He explained that, in the past, his disability prevented him from being cast in certain roles. Casting directors even told him to “lose the limp” when he auditioned for roles, he said. 

However, when Ross was cast in The Chosen, he said that the show’s creator Dallas Jenkins did not initially notice his limp. When he did notice it, he chose to re-work Ross’ character as having a disability. 

“Rather than re-cast or try to hide it with creative camera angles, [Jenkins] embraced it and asked if I’d be opposed to him writing it into my character,” said Ross. “Now it has given a whole new layer to my role.”

Ross told Deadline that he found it “notable” not only that a disabled actor was cast in a fast-growing show, but also that his character was re-written to accommodate his disability. He described this act as “another level of inclusion and visibility” of disabled actors. 

In a recent episode of The Chosen, James is asked why Jesus has not healed him of his limp. 

Ross said that the scene features his “character’s struggle for self-acceptance and fighting his insecurities,” which he said would “lead him to the realization that not everyone needs to be healed.” 

Looking ahead, Ross said that he hopes to use his celebrity to “help inspire others to chase their dreams, regardless of their mental or physical limitations.” 

“In fact, you can often use your differences to inspire others,” he said. 

The pilot episode of “The Chosen” premiered on Christmas Eve in 2017. The show’s first season focused on Jesus meeting his apostles, while the second season is focused on His growing fame. Jonathan Roumie, a devout Catholic, plays the character of Jesus. 

During its first season, the show was the largest-ever crowd-funded television series. Recently, the show’s website reported that 75,000 donors gave a total of $10 million through crowdfunding to support the first season; more than 125,000 donors had given a total of $10 million for the second season.

The second season premiered on Easter Sunday 2021. Season two is scheduled to have eight episodes, and can be streamed for free on YouTube, through an app for iOS or Android systems, or through the website of VidAngel, its distributor. The first season is also available on DVD.

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