RespectAbility’s National Disability Speakers Bureau
Ava Xiao-Lin Rigelhaupt (she/her/hers) is a writer, public speaker, actress, and advocate for disability and autism representation in the entertainment industry. A graduate of Sarah Lawrence College class of 2020, Rigelhaupt’s concentrations were screenwriting, acting and psychology.
As a speaker on RespectAbility’s Jewish Speakers Bureau and Women and Nonbinary Speakers Bureau, Rigelhaupt shares her story as a Chinese, Jewish, neurodiverse adoptee. Her story breaks stereotypes of both disability and Judaism. She has shared her lived experiences and expertise through multiple speaking engagements and public/internal panels (e.g. Disney and Netflix writers’ rooms, Actors’ Equity, Sundance Film Festival, synagogues, and community organizations). Rigelhaupt publishes articles and critiques of disability representation in media, interviews with entertainment professionals, and experiences as a disabled AAPI woman.
This June 2021, Rigelhaupt joined the Nickelodeon Live Action Casting Team for their immersive summer internship. Previously, she was an Entertainment Media Communications Fellow with RespectAbility. Rigelhaupt became immersed in the entertainment industry through consulting with studios such as Disney and Netflix on authentic onscreen portrayals of disability and diversity. Rigelhaupt reviews scripts, discusses disability tropes, edits character sketches, and writes casting calls. She remains an ongoing entertainment consultant.
Rigelhaupt was chosen to be a Ruderman Family Foundation Inclusion Ambassador her senior year. Rigelhaupt produced the college’s first sensory friendly theatrical performance. She organized and moderated a panel of NYC professionals discussing entertainment inclusion practices with students and faculty. (Sensory friendly performances are made accessible to people with sensory sensitivities such as those with autism or PTSD).
Rigelhaupt develops stories based on her life experiences, writing scripts on the road to her screenwriting career, while keeping her eyes peeled for auditioning opportunities! She’s determined to educate and influence the entertainment industry, creating more opportunities and authentic representations for the talented and diverse disability community.
About RespectAbility’s National Disability Speakers Bureau
RespectAbility’s National Disability Speakers Bureau offers diverse speakers with disabilities to teach about disability inclusion; and/or to offer their expertise in an array of topics, ranging from Art and Entertainment to Entrepreneurship, Education, Finance, Law, Psychology, Religion (of many faiths) and every vocation in between. Our Speakers Bureau and its divisions are expanding. If this is of interest to you or you know a professional with a visible or nonvisible disability who might be interested, you (or she/he/they) can email Speakers@RespectAbility.org.