National Leadership Program, Winter 2020 – Spring 2021
Ava Xiao-Lin Rigelhaupt is an Entertainment Media Communications Fellow in RespectAbility’s National Leadership Program for Spring 2021. RespectAbility is a nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities so that people with disabilities can fully participate in all aspects of community.
Rigelhaupt is a writer, actress, and advocate for disability and autism representation in the entertainment industry. She is also an alumna of RespectAbility’s 2020 Summer Entertainment Lab for Professionals with Disabilities. Rigelhaupt graduated in the class of 2020 from Sarah Lawrence College (NY) with a Bachelor’s degree. In 2017, she took a leap, taking a gap year from college and becoming a founding member of a new neurodiverse theatre company, Spectrum Theatre Ensemble, in Rhode Island. That year, Rigelhaupt wrote and collaborated on the company’s first show, Identity Spectrum, a show about living with a disability. During that time, she was a neurodiverse intern with Trinity Repertory Company helping create their first sensory friendly season. (Sensory Friendly performances are accessible to patrons with Autism or PTSD, who might have sensory sensitivities). She was invited to speak on her first panel at the Theatre Communication Group’s National conference about being a neurodiverse artist.
During Rigelhaupt’s senior year at Sarah Lawrence, she was the college’s Ruderman Family Foundation Inclusion Ambassador and worked with Hillel and the theatre department to produce the school’s first sensory friendly performance, along with moderating a panel of industry professionals to discuss accessibility in entertainment.
Rigelhaupt has presented on different disability and diversity panels, and published articles discussing topics such as: autism, accessibility, being a Chinese adoptee, and studying abroad in Italy as an autistic college student. She has also published tv show reviews and done consulting work. Recently, one of Rigelhaupt’s original pilots was chosen to be streamed and read by actors with the Asian American Film Lab.
Rigelhaupt wants to write for TV or film (and continue her love of acting), working with entertainment companies and professionals to create more opportunities and representation for diverse people with disabilities in the entertainment industry.
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 FELLOWSHIP OPPORTUNITIES
- PUBLIC POLICY/EMPLOYMENT
- COMMUNICATIONS/DIVERSITY IN FILM & TELEVISION
- NONPROFIT MANAGEMENT
- COMMUNITY OUTREACH/GRASSROOTS ORGANIZING
- JEWISH INCLUSION