People with facial scars and disfigurements dress up as heroes in a charity drive

Screen villains were often portrayed with some sort of disfigurement.

But one charity is calling on the film industry to advocate for an “equal representation of visible differences” and has launched a new campaign, featuring its supporters dressed up as popular protagonists to show that those who appear different are heroes too could be.

On Changing Faces, its activists felt like movie stars – they dressed them up as Indiana Jones, James Bond, Audrey Hepburn, Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz and Black Panther.

I Am Not Your Villain, the UK charity that supports and represents people with illness, marks or scars, hopes their campaign will change the way people are perceived with a disfigurement.

Tulsi Vagliani, 42, who was injured in a plane crash when she was a child, as Audrey Hepburn

Adam Pearson, 36, who suffers from facial disfigurement due to neurofibromatosis, a genetic disorder of the nervous system, as Indiana Jones, left, and Tulsi Vagliani, 42, who was injured in a plane crash when she was a child, as Audrey Hepburn, right

Michael Boateng, 33, as Black Panther (pictured).  On Changing Faces, its activists felt like movie stars - they dressed them up as Indiana Jones, James Bond, Audrey Hepburn, Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz and Black Panther.

Michael Boateng, 33, as Black Panther (pictured). On Changing Faces, its activists felt like movie stars – they dressed them up as Indiana Jones, James Bond, Audrey Hepburn, Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz and Black Panther.

Robert Rhodes, 26, from London, who has a birthmark on the side of his face, told the Daily Express: “I never thought I would play a character like James Bond.

“You always see bad guys with scars on screen. It felt good to be cast as a hero instead.”

Meanwhile, Tulsi Vagliani, 42, who was injured in a plane crash during her childhood, played the role of Audrey Hepburn for the campaign.

She said: “I just wish I’d seen someone who looked like me playing a heroine on screen.

“It would have helped me not to feel so alone. I want to tell young people like me that we are unique.”

The campaign calls on the film industry to stop using scars, burns or marks as shorthand for villainy.

I Am Not Your Villain, the UK charity that supports and represents people with illness, marks or scars, hopes their campaign will change the way people are perceived with a disfigurement.  Pictured: Eleanor Hardie, 21, as Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz.

I Am Not Your Villain, the UK charity that supports and represents people with illness, marks or scars, hopes their campaign will change the way people are perceived with a disfigurement. Pictured: Eleanor Hardie, 21, as Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz.

Robert Rhodes (pictured), 26, from London, who was born with a birthmark on one side of his face, said:

Robert Rhodes (pictured), 26, from London, who was born with a birthmark on one side of his face, said: “I never thought I would play a character like James Bond.”

Research by the charity found that only 1 in 5 people with a visual difference has seen a character who looks like the hero in a movie or on TV.

Even fewer (15 percent) have seen someone with a visual difference play the love interest on screen.

Yet almost twice as many, 39 percent, have seen someone cast as a villain with a visible difference.

The British Film Institute (BFI) was the first organization to join the campaign. BFI has committed to stop promoting films in which negative characteristics are portrayed through scars or facial differences.

Ben Roberts, Director of the Film Fund at the BFI, told the charity: “Film has such a powerful impact on society, it allows us to see the world in new ways, enriches life and can make a vital contribution to our well-being.

Research by the charity found that only 1 in 5 people with a visual difference has seen a character who looks like the hero in a movie or on TV.  Pictured Michael as Black Panther

Research by the charity found that only 1 in 5 people with a visual difference has seen a character who looks like the hero in a movie or on TV. Pictured Michael as Black Panther

Even fewer (15 percent) have seen someone with a visual difference play the love interest on screen.  Pictured, Robert as James Bond

Even fewer (15 percent) have seen someone with a visual difference play the love interest on screen. Pictured, Robert as James Bond

“It’s also a catalyst for change, and that’s why we’re committed to not portraying negative portrayals through scars or facial differences in the films we sponsor.

“It’s amazing to think that movies have so often and for so long used visible differences as shorthand for villains. It’s about time this stopped.

“The BFI believes that films should be truly representative of the UK and this campaign speaks directly to the criteria of the BFI Diversity Standards which require meaningful on-screen representation.

“We fully support Changing Faces’ ‘I Am Not Your Villain’ campaign and call on the rest of the film industry to do the same.”

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