9-1-1 ‘s youngest star 11-year-old Gavin McHugh hopes to inspire fans that have Cerebral Palsy.
Gavin portrays Christopher Diaz, the song of Eddie Diaz (Ryan Guzman). In a new interview with Teen Vogue, Gavin and his mother Lisa spoke about just how important disability representation is in media. In a shocking statistic from a 2016 study by Ruderman White Paper, it revealed that 95% of characters with disabilities in top ten television shows were played by able-bodied actors, people who did not have a disability.
Screenwriter and director Tim Minear revealed that when he first conceptualized the characters, he knew that Eddie would be the single father of a child with a disability. Their portrayal has earned praise from the non-profit organization RespectAbility, which believes that they highlighted the importance of “setting high expectations for children with disabilities.” This also extends to those people living with the same or similar disability. Gavin has received praise from fans on social media for his 9-1-1 work.
“We just read his Instagram comments and want to cry,” Lisa said. “They’re like, ‘you changed my life,’ or ‘you made me realize that I could do things that I didn’t realize I could do.’ It’s really incredible to not just have fans or have a show or a job, but [also] to be able to move people the way he is. It’s been really exciting to watch.”
‘9-1-1’ Biggest Inspiration
“It’s also really special, for the kids or the people that have more disability than others,” she added. “That they have somebody that gives them hope or something more to strive for. When you see Christopher on TV, you see that there’s a lot of value to him. You just don’t see what he isn’t able to do. You see his sweet comments and the love he shares with his friends and his family, and you see the positives. In life, it’s hard to not get caught up in the negatives, [but] I think 9-1-1 gives a lot of positivity, excitement, hope, and love.”
Lisa noted that his work on 9-1-1 “has changed his life and his confidence, even his self-worth.” “When you go to school and you’re the kid who can’t see or can’t read or can’t play on the playground, but then you’ve got this thing that nobody else has, it makes you feel special.”
9-1-1 is on its fifth season and Gavin hopes to have “lots of scenes with Eddie and Buck” in the future. He said that he enjoys doing things that he wouldn’t do in his typical day-to-day life. But his biggest hope is to inspire other children with disabilities that their dreams are in reach.
9-1-1 airs on Mondays at 8 PM CT on Fox.