National Leadership Program, Spring 2019
Tatiana Lee was a Communications Apprentice in RespectAbility’s National Leadership Program for Spring 2019, and is now RespectAbility’s Senior Associate of Entertainment Media. RespectAbility is a nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities for and with people with disabilities. Lee came to this leadership program to gain better knowledge and skills to be a more effective advocate in Hollywood for disability inclusion. She wants to learn about RespectAbility’s culture to maintain the excellent track record for effectiveness it has in Hollywood. She hopes to help represent RespectAbility in Hollywood. Like RespectAbility, Lee has dedicated her life to fighting for inclusion of people with disabilities in all aspects of mass media.
Growing up in Coatesville, Pennsylvania, Lee felt invisible to the rest of society because she did not see anyone that looked like her in popular media. Lee majored in Business Marketing with the help of online college courses while managing her major health issues. Lee wanted to learn how to market herself as a brand because people laughed at her when she told them she wanted to act and model.
So Lee moved to Los Angeles to pursue her acting further and vowed to be the change she wanted to see. She quickly realized that wheelchair accessibility was a major barrier for her and wanted to shed insight on her perspective.
Lee learned to harness the power of social media to speak boldly about accessibility and inclusion in mass media. She became the voice behind “Accessible Hollywood,” where she highlighted her journey as an actress, model and lifestyle influencer born with Spina Bifida. Lee was in one of Apple’s first ad campaigns featuring people with disabilities using Apple’s accessible features and products.
Lee has appeared in several short films, including the 2018 Disability Film Challenge Best Awareness Film “Footloose” and “Coffee with Tim Cook, CEO of Apple.” She also has appeared in modeling campaigns such as #PerfectFigure for Parfait Lingerie. Lee currently is undertaking speaking engagements, panels and attending Upright Citizens Brigade Improv Theater as a 3x Diversity Scholarship recipient. She is the 2018 recipient of the Reeves Acting Scholarship from The Christopher & Dana Reeves Foundation, which she accepted at the Media Access Awards.
Lee loves living in the heart of LA for the ease of getting to auditions, and it is where a lot of the magic of Hollywood happens. Lee loves being in the middle of the Hollywood vibe. Her goal in Hollywood is to star in her own major film, snag the cover of a major magazine and to eventually write and direct her own projects. Most of all, she wants to shift society’s narrative of what it means to be a woman of color with a disability and make sure that all people with disabilities have a chance to steer their own narrative of disability in mass media.
Lee loves beauty, fashion, fitness and attending and hosting events with her peers. When Lee is not acting, modeling or fighting for inclusion, she is taking boxing classes, doing yoga and cooking a fun meal with her family that she is close with.
Lee has written several pieces for RespectAbility as an Apprentice and employee. Check them out on our website:
- Super Bowl Commercials Improving But Still Lacking in Disability Representation Overall
(February 4, 2019)
- RespectAbility to Win Global Innovation Award for Independent Living for People with Disabilities
(February 13, 2019)
- Black Hollywood: The Struggle to Include Disability (February 27, 2019)
- Changing Media Perceptions, One Modeling Job at a Time (March 27, 2019)
- Fort Irwin Showcases Realities of Living in an Ableist Society Yet Choosing to Confront Challenges Head-On (September 19, 2019)
- Andrea Lausell: Disability Pride & Hispanic Heritage Pride as One (October 9, 2019)
- Lauren “Lolo” Spencer on the Importance of Authentic Storytelling (November 26, 2019)
JOIN OUR TEAM!
RespectAbility is a nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities for and with people with disabilities. Learn more about the National Leadership Program and apply for the next cohort! Contact BenS@RespectAbility.org for more information.
ALL APPRENTICESHIP OPPORTUNITIES
- PUBLIC POLICY/EMPLOYMENT
- ENTERTAINMENT AND NEWS MEDIA
- NONPROFIT MANAGEMENT
- CIVIC ENGAGEMENT/COALITION BUILDING
- JEWISH INCLUSION
- APPRENTICESHIP FOR BLIND AND LOW-VISION LEADERS