Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Mitch Longley infuses "Desperate Housewives" with some disability themes

Actor Mitch Longley appeared on "Desperate Housewives" April 20 in a fabulous scene that allows for some vicarious payback from disabled people toward all those non-disabled jerks who illegally park in the accessible spots. His character tries to give the Eva Longoria Parker character, Gaby Solis, a good tongue lashing, but of course, she's filled with selfish entitlement so lashes back. Quite funny. See for yourself on YouTube.

Longley also has been a series regular on "Las Vegas" most recently, as well as guest starring on "Weeds," "Shark" and "Bones." He started his career in soap operas like "Another World" and "Port Charles," where he was a series regular.

The American Chronicle did an in-depth profile of him on April 26. He said he thinks things may be getting slightly better for actors with disabilities these days.

"I feel blessed to work consistently and when there are actors such as myself and others who are acting consecutively year after year, we are consistently visible," he says in the article. "Who knows what young person is being inspired by that. Maybe there's a great disabled comic and they're looking for comics. That person could have a top 10 show.

"My hope is that in the next five to 10 years, I would love to see five young performers with disabilities under the age of 20 or 25, who have been around for a while, rise to attention. I'd like to see a young child with a disability who is a fabulous actor come up through the ranks and get killer work so that we can watch a career develop like we do with other actors. I'd also like to see a wider range of actors who are older with disabilities fit into storylines."

Longley says even high-profile documentaries on disability have helped his acting career. After the Oscar-nominated "Murderball," about wheelchair rugby, received nationwide attention, he was cast on Showtime's "Weeds" as a rugby referee and got an audition to play a rugby player on the NBC series "My Name is Earl."

Longley is also the founder of SOWOHO, a non-profit organization committed to helping underprivileged, physically disabled Native Americans and other people around the world. Sowoho projects have included working with the physically disabled communities of the Navajo and White Mountain Apache Nations, in Mexico City and Bosnia-Herzegovina among others.