Disabled actor, James Moore won Best Newcomer for his role as Ryan Stocks in Emmerdale. Disability Horizons’ writer, Carrie Aimes interviewed James about joining the long-running soap.

Since first appearing in Emmerdale in June 2018, James Moore has been widely praised for his portrayal of Charity Dingle’s long-lost son, Ryan Stocks. Ryan has cerebral palsy and is one of just a handful of TV characters with a disability.

Both James’s character and James himself have cerebral palsy. James has Ataxic cerebral palsy, a less common form of cerebral palsy. Literally translated, ataxia means ‘without order’ or ‘incoordination. In James’s words it means: “I struggle with movement and coordination. I find it difficult to walk long distances and there are certain things I know I can’t do, but I’ve adapted to these challenges in my day-to-day life.”


The portrayal of disability on TV and inclusion of disabled actors is far from what it should be. When I spoke with James, he stressed how disability needs to be made ‘normal’. But in order for that to happen, acting needs to be easier for disabled people to get into.

“I have certainly faced some challenges,” James said, “but it comes with the territory of being a disabled actor. At the end of the day, it’s most likely that I will be cast as a disabled character, and those parts are not easy to come by.” He continued: “I also have issues with self-doubt. As there aren’t a lot of roles for disabled people, it can sometimes be hard to foresee a length career in the industry.”

Asking whether he thinks people’s view of disabled actors helps or hinders the situation, James said: “I think Society’s attitude towards non-disabled actors playing disabled characters is too lenient. I mean, we wouldn’t let someone white use makeup to play a black person. It would be deemed unacceptable. So, why let able-bodied people take the roles of disabled characters?”


James’s appearance in the show is certainly a move in the right direction towards disability on TV becoming more natural and accepted. James said: “In order to ‘normalise’ disability on screen, we first have to find disabled actors and give them opportunities, rather than taking roles away from them. I think that is the biggest and most important step.

This is why I love being a part of Emmerdale – it is showing disability in a new light and letting viewers know that disabled people can be independent and have full, healthy lives. Together, we’re proving that disability isn’t a defining factor.”

We wish to thank Disability Horizons for this article.