RJ Mitte, who plays Campbell Bingman on ABC Family’s Switched at Birth (SAB), agrees that there are many shows that do not show people living with a disability. “Shows should portray people with disabilities who are flourishing, and showing people that you can do it, not matter what you have, and you can make your goals of who you are,” RJ said during an interview on set last January 2013. “That’s really important to me, because I had the same aspect with (Junior) on Breaking Bad.” About Campbell on SAB, he became paralyzed from a snowboarding accident, and he connects with Daphne (played by Katie Leclerc) because of their different physical disabilities.
Although Campbell is stuck in a wheelchair from a spinal cord injury, he believes that he would be cured and snowboard again. Additionally, Vanessa Marano, who plays Bay Kennish, on the SAB show, commented that she is excited to have RJ playing Campbell since the character uses a wheelchair. “I got the bug (helping the Christopher Reeve Foundation) to find a cure for (spinal cord injury),” Marano said, who became involved with the Foundation at the age of 11 by playing a quadriplegic in The Brooke Ellison Story directed by Reeve. She is now the ambassador for the Foundation.
Now about the injury, Campbell deals with it adapting to his new disability. “I was very lucky to be part of Breaking Bad. Everyone who I worked with taught me so much, and I wouldn’t be who I am without them,” Mitte said. “I love Switched at Birth, because of the disability aspect of the show.” Mitte, who has mild cerebral palsy in real life, is also a strong advocate of the disability community.
Mitte is the Youth Spokesperson for the National Disability Institute’s Real Economic Impact Tour, which strives to improve living situations for low-income people with disabilities. He also is the spokesperson for “I AM PWD,” a tri-union campaign run by Screen Actors Guild, AFTRA, and Actor’s Equity Association, which supports performers with disabilities. Also since 2011, he became a Celebrity Youth Ambassador for United Cerebral Palsy.
Also, at a more personal level, Mitte fights back to stop school bullying. He works with PACER’s National Center for Bullying Prevention. Mitte had his own set of bullies since he had to use wheelchairs and crutches as a child. “You have to deal with bullies, and there will always be bullies. Bullies always will be bullies,” Mitte said, who has a goal to prevent bullying. He also works with INPWD (Inclusion of Arts and Media People with Disabilities).
Watch Switched at Birth Mondays at 8 pm PST on ABC Family.