Acclaimed actor, producer and disability activist RJ Mitte will join Channel 4’s presenting team for the 2016 Paralympics.
Mitte rose to fame after starring as the character Walter White Jr in the US hit series Breaking Bad. As an actor he has sought Hollywood parts where his disability could serve to educate the public about coping with disabilities. Like his Breaking Bad character, Mitte has cerebral palsy and is a passionate campaigner for disability charities.
A keen American football player as a teenager, he is a huge sports and Paralympics fan. Mitte will be based in Rio and will provide comment on each day’s action and the big stories. He will front a number of features and reports, getting behind the scenes and offering his unique take on the Games as well as making appearances on The Last Leg.
Mitte says: “I’m so excited and honoured to be working with Channel 4 for the upcoming 2016 Paralympic Games. Sports connects us through the art of competition and I look forward to meeting all the athletes and learning about how they achieved their goals of pursuing their passion on such an elite level.”
Channel 4’s Head of TV Events and Sport Ed Havard says: “It’s hard to think of a better booking for the Paralympics – RJ is a huge star worldwide after being part of the one of the biggest TV shows of all time and we are delighted that he will be such a huge part of our Rio coverage. His passion for the sport and his groundbreaking role in transforming attitudes to disability make him the perfect addition to C4’s own world class team of talent being led by Clare Balding.”
Mitte is a celebrity ambassador for United Cerebral Palsy and is the Screen Actors Guild’s spokesperson for actors with disabilities. He also volunteers for I AM PWD (Inclusion in the Arts & Media of People with Disabilities), which aims to increase the number of performers with disabilities. He tours schools, giving talks about his experiences, encouraging disabled students to build up the mental resistance that he believes is essential to their self-esteem. In recent months he has added modelling to his list of skills, taking to the catwalk for Vivienne Westwood’s show in Milan.
Full details of Channel 4’s presenting line-up will be announced in the new year which will build on its London 2012 Paralympic legacy for on screen disabled talent – taking the best of the 2012 disabled presenters and reporters to the next level, identifying at least two new disabled presenters and lead commentators, and providing training for all commentators on the most effective ways to bring explanation of sports and disabilities to viewers.
Channel 4 has confirmed that Clare Balding, lead presenter of Channel 4’s London 2012 coverage, will return to Channel 4 to anchor the 2016 Games. Channel 4’s 2012 coverage won a BAFTA for best sport and live event coverage and helped to transform attitudes towards disability.