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Diversity, Equity and Equality in Hollywood Focus Group

This event was by invitation only.

If you have any questions, please contact Lauren Appelbaum at laurena@respectability.org or 202-591-0703.

Date: Tuesday, August 15, 2017
Time: The focus group begins at 6:00 p.m. Please plan to arrive by 5:45 p.m. to be seated before the group begins. Dinner will be provided.
Location: Provided with RSVP.
Contact: Lauren Appelbaum, laurena@respectability.org or 202-591-0703

We invite you to watch behind the glass of a focus group that will investigate existing perceptions of people with disabilities among entertainment decision makers. We will work to identify messages and strategies to fight stigma and advance opportunities for people with disabilities in the industry.

People with disabilities are the largest minority in America, with almost one-in-five Americans having a disability. Yet the disability community often is forgotten in inclusion and diversity conversations. According to GLAAD, fewer than two percent of scripted television characters (15) had disabilities in 2016. Furthermore, more than 95 percent of characters with disabilities on television are played by actors without disabilities.

What does exist is misleading. Almost all portrayals of people with disabilities in media are white, despite the fact that disability impacts all. Anyone can join the disability community at any point and people with disabilities come from all communities – including the African American, Asian, Hispanic, Native American and LGBTQ communities.

According to a recent report by The Media, Diversity, & Social Change (MDSC) Initiative at USC’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, only 2.7 percent of all speaking or named characters in film were shown to have a disability in 2016 (up from 2.4 percent in 2015). None of the leading characters were from an underrepresented racial/ethnic group or the LGBT community.

“The results of this analysis on characters with disabilities reveal clear discrepancies between the real world and the ‘reel world,'” the report says. “Stories that reflect the full lives of characters with disabilities and the demographic diversity of this community remain elusive in film.”

The report shows that in the last decade there has been almost no progress on diversity, equity and equality in Hollywood. Therefore, we need to find a better model to move change.

Meet the Author

Lauren Appelbaum
Lauren Appelbaum

Lauren Appelbaum is the communications director of RespectAbility, a nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities for and with people with disabilities, and managing editor of The RespectAbility Report, a publication at the intersection of disability and politics. Previously she was a digital researcher with the NBC News political unit. As an individual with an acquired invisible disability - Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy - she writes about the intersection of disability, employment, Hollywood and politics. Appelbaum currently oversees RespectAbility’s outreach to Hollywood to promote positive, accurate, diverse and inclusive media portrayals on TV and in film. To reach her, email LaurenA@RespectAbility.org.

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