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WEBINAR: Hollywood, Media & Disability

Fighting Stigmas and Expanding Opportunities for People with Disabilities

Read the webinar transcript (COMING SOON)
Download the accessible PowerPoint
Watch the webinar on YouTube with live embedded captions

Featuring

Jenni Gold, editor, screenwriter, director and founder of Gold Pictures, Inc.
John Tucker, cast member of Emmy-award winning Born This Way and rap artist
Gail Williamson, talent agent and head of the Diversity Department at Kazarian/Measures/Ruskin & Associates

Moderated By Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, President of RespectAbility

We at RespectAbility, a national nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and expanding opportunities for people with disabilities, have been working with several partners within the entertainment industry on the full inclusion of people with disabilities – in front and behind the camera. The webinar was part of the process of creating a Community of Practice to work on the closely connected issues of disability, diversity, inclusion, poverty and media.

The webinar is being followed up with in-person meetings for interested parties based in Los Angeles and New York City. We are looking for partners to help move the needle on two core important issues: inclusion and diversity in Hollywood and employment of people with disabilities. Please contact our Communications Director at [email protected] for more information.

headshot of Jenni Gold

Jenni Gold

Jenni Gold 

is considered a triple threat in the world of entertainment. Her editing and screenwriting skills serve as a foundation for her directorial efforts which have received multiple awards and have placed her among the best in her field as a Director Member of the Directors Guild of America. Gold is the founder of Gold Pictures, Inc. a development / production entity which was established in 2001. In addition to directing CinemAbility, Gold has co-written and is developing narrative feature films including a suspense thriller titled Adrenaline, a romantic comedy titled Mr. December and family films such as Lucky and Ryann Watters. Gold also launched a corporate division of Gold Pictures to service well-known clients including The Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation. Gold has Muscular Dystrophy and has used a wheelchair since the age of seven. She went to film school at the University of Central Florida where she graduated Summa Cum Luade with two BA degrees, one in Motion Picture Production and another in Radio and Television Broadcasting. Her passion for storytelling is evident in her work and achievements.

John Tucker and his mom Joyce at the Emmy Awards, John is holding his Emmy statue

Joyce and John Tucker

John Tucker

is an actor, dancer, rapper and music writer from Los Angeles, CA. He is a cast member of Emmy-Award winning Born This Way, a reality show that portrays the lives of seven young adults with Down syndrome as they pursue their independent lives. The show highlights Tuckers’ pursuit of a career as a rap artist. An entertainer, through and through, he always is expressing himself through his music, writing and dance. He is a particularly adept rapper, working diligently on his debut album, “JT: The Project.” Anchored by his mother, Joyce, his large family supports him in all of his creative endeavors.

headshot of Gail Williamson

Gail Williamson

Gail Williamson

is a talent agent and head of the Diversity Department at Kazarian/Measures/Ruskin & Associates in Studio City, CA. The department focuses on representing clients with diverse disabilities. Williamson began her career as an advocate for talent with disabilities with the California Governor’s Committee for Employment of People with Disabilities working in their Media Access Office in Los Angeles in the early 90’s. To date, Williamson has represented talent with disabilities on Broadway, as network series regulars, as recurring characters and more. She is happy to ask “Why couldn’t the attorney use a wheelchair?” or “Couldn’t that mom be deaf?” or “Why can’t grocery bagger have Down syndrome?” Williamson’s own son Blair who was born with Down syndrome is an accomplished actor, his work was the beginning of her media training and eye opening experience on how media images can change public opinion.

 

Meet the Author

Lauren Appelbaum

Lauren Appelbaum is the VP, Communications and Entertainment & News Media, of RespectAbility, a nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities so all people with disabilities can fully participate in every aspect of community. As an individual with an acquired nonvisible disability – Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy – she works at the intersection of disability, employment, Hollywood and politics. She regularly conducts trainings on the why and how to be more inclusive and accessible for entertainment executives throughout the industry. Appelbaum partners with studios, production companies and writers’ rooms to create equitable and accessible opportunities to increase the number of people with lived disability experience throughout the overall story-telling process. These initiatives increase diverse and authentic representation of disabled people on screen, leading to systemic change in how society views and values people with disabilities. She has consulted on more than 100 TV episodes and films with A&E, Bunim-Murray Productions, NBCUniversal, Netflix, ViacomCBS, and The Walt Disney Company, among others. She represents RespectAbility on the CAA Full Story Initiative Advisory Council, Disney+ Content Advisory Council, MTV Entertainment Group Culture Code and Sundance Institute’s Allied Organization Initiative. She is the author of The Hollywood Disability Inclusion Toolkit and the creator of an innovative Lab Program for entertainment professionals with disabilities working in development, production and post-production. She is a recipient of the 2020 Roddenberry Foundation Impact Award for this Lab. To reach her, email [email protected]

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