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Ava Xiao-Lin Rigelhaupt, Entertainment Media Communications Apprentice

National Leadership Program, Winter 2020 – Spring 2021

Ava Xiao-Lin Rigelhaupt smiling headshot

Ava Xiao-Lin Rigelhaupt

Ava Xiao-Lin Rigelhaupt (she/her/hers) is a writer, consultant, actress, public speaker, and advocate for disability and autism representation in the entertainment industry.

In June 2021, Rigelhaupt joined the Nickelodeon Live Action Casting Team for their immersive internship. Additionally, she’s an Autistic Creative Consultant on a developing musical (dir. Sammi Cannold), How to Dance in Ohio, based on the HBO documentary of the same name.

Previously, she was an Entertainment Media Communications Apprentice 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 is a speaker on RespectAbility’s Jewish Speakers Bureau and Women and Nonbinary Speakers Bureau.

Rigelhaupt shares 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, The Kennedy Center). She publishes articles and critiques of disability representation in media, interviews with entertainment professionals, and experiences as a disabled AAPI woman.

Rigelhaupt was chosen to be a Ruderman Family Foundation Inclusion Ambassador her senior year at Sarah Lawrence College (class of 2020). 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.


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 [email protected] for more information.



Meet the Author

Ava Rigelhaupt

Ava Xiao-Lin Rigelhaupt is a writer, actress, and advocate for disability and autism representation in the entertainment industry. She wants to write for TV or film, while also finding a way to continue acting.

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