Presented in Partnership with The Walt Disney Company
Disney Channel’s Emmy Award-nominated series Big City Greens is breaking barriers when it comes to ensuring authentic deaf representation. In the “Quiet Please” episode, the Green family visits the city library hoping to find a book that will spark Cricket’s interest in reading, but they quickly run afoul of a strict, eerie librarian. Determined to keep the library a quiet place, she threatens to throw them out if they make any sound, so they must communicate through gestures and sign language. RespectAbility’s board member Delbert Whetter, along with Jevon Whetter and Justin Maurer, consulted on this episode, which premiered on Saturday, September 19 at 8:00 p.m. ET/PT on Disney Channel. Learn from these ASL consultants as well as Big City Greens Creators/Executive Producers Chris and Shane Houghton on how these teams worked together to bring about authentic representation of ASL.
Big City Greens Creators and Executive Producers:
- Chris Houghton
- Shane Houghton
Team of Deaf-led ASL consultants for Big City Greens:
- Delbert Whetter, Deaf filmmaker and RespectAbility Board Member
- Jevon Whetter, Deaf filmmaker and ASL dialogue coach
- Justin Maurer, ASL interpreter who is a “CODA” (a child of deaf adults)
Moderator: Tatiana Lee, Hollywood Inclusion Associate, RespectAbility
Delbert A. Whetter, JD, MBA, currently serves as the Chief Operating Officer & Head of Business Affairs at Exodus Film Group in Venice, California, where he manages the corporate and business affairs of Exodus Film Group. In the past sixteen years, Whetter has served as head of Business Affairs for numerous entertainment, digital, and wireless content providers where he was responsible for drafting and negotiating film, television, and online property transactions, development, talent and production agreements, film financing arrangements, and licenses of intellectual properties. Whetter has worked on Exodus Film Group motion pictures, IGOR, a CGI-animated motion picture released globally by MGM in 2008, The Hero of Color City, released by Magnolia Pictures in 2014, and Bunyan & Babe, released by Cinedigm in 2017.
Prior to earning his law degree from the George Washington University Law School in Washington, D.C., Whetter served in a clerkship at the Federal Communications Commission, and as a paralegal for three years at top Washington, D.C. law firm, Hogan & Hartson (now known as Hogan Lovells). Whetter earned his Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree from Pepperdine University’s Graziadio School of Business and Management.
Jevon Whetter earned his MFA in Producing from the American Film Institute Conservatory, where he produced over four different short narrative films, directed fight scenes as fight director, and worked on over fifteen short films. Jevon produced a well-received short AFI thesis film, SHORT ON TIME, starring Frances Bay that aired on the ShortsTV cable network. Few years ago, Jevon co-produced, CODA, a short USC thesis film written and directed by Erika Davis-Marsh, starring CJ Jones and Ryan Lane.
Along with his brother, Delbert, Jevon participated in the 2019 Producer’s Guild of America’s Power of Diversity workshop for his feature film project, FLASH BEFORE THE BANG. His screenplay was recently showcased at the Disability Scene Showcase at the Writer’s Guild of America and was selected by Film Independent for its 2018 Producing Lab program. FLASH BEFORE THE BANG is a recipient of the 2019 SFFILM Rainin Grant.
In 1992, Jevon first launched his professional career in the performing arts right after graduating from Gallaudet University when he was hired to perform with the internationally acclaimed National Theatre of the Deaf (NTD) mainstage touring production company, touring North America and Ireland. Jevon also holds a Master of Arts in Theatre Arts from San Diego State University with honors from the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society. Jevon founded the Performing Arts program at the California School for the Deaf, Riverside and taught High School Drama classes for ten years. During his graduate school years, Jevon also studied under fight director Gregory Hoffman at the Dueling Arts Academy, receiving extensive stage combat training in six different weapon-fighting styles in Las Vegas, Nevada and Honolulu, Hawaii.
As the adjunct professor of ASL and Deaf Theatre course at California State University – Northridge for the past eight years, Jevon wrote and directed several theatrical productions for the stage: SURDS, HAT IN THE SAND, THE JUMPER, ASL CURSE, EPHPHETA, and REEL CREATURES as well as Glenn Devlin’s THE ASSIMILATION.
Jevon’s professional stage experience includes NTD’s OPHELIA tour and appearances at the Deaf West Theatre in ALADDIN, A CHRISTMAS CAROL, and Mark Medoff’s ROAD TO REVOLUTION. Jevon worked at the Fountain Theatre as an ASL Dialogue Coach, along with Lisa Hermatz, for their award-winning production of ARRIVAL AND DEPARTURE. Jevon’s professional credits as a director for the stage include Samuel Beckett’s KRAPP’S LAST TAPE at Deaf West Theatre and FALLING ON DEAF EYES at the 2019 Hollywood Fringe Festival, which he co-wrote with Justin Maurer.
Jevon currently works as an educator in the Los Angeles Unified School District and continues to work as a producer, director, and writer for numerous stage and film projects in Los Angeles, where he resides with his wife, Kimberly, and son, Robert.
Justin Maurer is a CODA (Child of a Deaf Adult) and a professional American Sign Language interpreter, consultant, writer, producer, performer, and musician based in Los Angeles. He works full time as an American Sign Language interpreter and consultant. He frequently interprets high profile events, award ceremonies, meetings, political speeches, television appearances, interviews, and more. He has interpreted on Jimmy Kimmel Live, Entertainment Tonight, and Shark Tank. As a freelance interpreter, he is experienced and proficient in educational, medical, and other fields. He also has interpreted for many musical performances including Stray Kids, Ozomatli, Aloe Blacc, Tom Morello, Alice Bag, The Avengers, and The Linda Lindas.
From 2019-2020, he had the honor of interpreting for Senator Bernie Sanders, Senator Elizabeth Warren, former First Lady Michelle Obama, Congresswoman Maxine Waters, and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti as well as interpreting for the historic Los Angeles Teachers Strike of January 2019 and via the BIPOC-lead collective, ProBono Interpreters, for the Los Angeles Black Lives Matter Uprising in 2020. He also has interpreted for RespectAbility’s Summer Lab for Emerging Disabled Filmmakers in 2019 and 2020.
His ASL interpreting and consultation experience includes entertainment industry stalwarts The Jimmy Kimmel Show, Entertainment Tonight, NBC/Universal, ABC, Fox, Sony Pictures, Paramount, Lionsgate, Disney, DreamWorks, Writers Guild of America West (WGA), Producers Guild of America (PGA), and Screen Actors Guild of America (SAG-AFTRA). His autobiographical play “Falling On Deaf Eyes,” which Jevon directed and Delbert produced, premiered and had a seven show run at the Hollywood Fringe Festival in 2019.
As a strong advocate for the Deaf community, he always employs Deaf team members when he is hired as an ASL Consultant for scripts, films, or television. He recently conducted five seminars of Deaf Awareness training with his Deaf business partner. CODAs and Deaf partners make for a great team. As an advocate for the Deaf Community, he strongly encourages all ASL Consultants, ASL Dialogue Coaches, ASL Masters, ASL interpreters, and CODAs to include Deaf community members as a part of their consulting teams.
Brothers Chris and Shane Houghton are creators and executive producers of Disney Channel’s animated comedy-adventure series “Big City Greens.”
The series, which follows the offbeat adventures of 10-year-old Cricket Green, a mischievous and optimistic country boy who moves to the big city with his wildly out of place family, was heavily influenced by the brothers’ childhood growing up in St. Johns, Michigan, a small rural town north of Lansing also known as the mint capital of the world. Cricket is based on and voiced by Chris, and many of the characters are inspired by real-life family members and childhood townsfolk.
The duo is best known for creating, writing and illustrating their comic book series “Reed Gunther,” about a bear riding cowboy, which was published by Image Comics. After moving to Los Angeles, they went on to write and illustrate comics for “The Simpsons,” “Adventure Time,” “Peanuts,” among others.
They quickly made their foray into television where Chris worked as a storyboard artist for Disney’s “Gravity Falls” and “Wander Over Yonder,” and Shane as an editor for reality series “Tattoo School.” A few years later, the brothers reunited to work on “Harvey Beaks” – Chris as a storyboard director and Shane as a staff writer.
Chris attended the College for Creative Studies in Detroit, Michigan. Shane attended the Florida State University Film School.