Kelley Cape, Lab Program Fellow
RespectAbility Entertainment Professionals Lab, Summer 2021
Kelley Cape (she/they) is an Entertainment Media Fellow with 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.
Cape has spent her professional and academic career galvanizing inclusive cultures everywhere she goes. From creating access to domestic independent agency, diverse STEM workforces and representation on Hollywood’s screens, to directing research studies that challenge ideas of ableism and promote intersectionality, her dedication and passion for DEI is the center.
After working as a respite caregiver for individuals granted state funded living assistance for 3 years, she challenged her own caregiving agency to grow in sensitivity and awareness. Cape pitched a training reconstruction model to corporate executives that would offer anti-ableist strategies of caregiving that empower self-sustainable lifestyles. Chairing this project, she created research-based learning modules that celebrate disability and neurodiversity.
While working with the National Foundation for Autism Research, Cape empowered the neurodiverse community in San Diego as she bridged the tech industry with the STEM talent of young adults with autism. Traveling from company to company, Cape helped spread awareness of the competitive advantage that comes with a diverse workforce to tech powerhouses like Amazon and Qualcomm.
These opportunities exposed the obstacles that people with disabilities face in the professional world that are largely solidified by ignorance and lack of understanding. Cape turned to the entertainment industry as a channel to streamline the production of diverse and inclusive representation that would challenge the dangerous stereotypes holding back marginalized communities. With ViacomCBS’s Global Inclusion team, she championed diversity by supporting their equity centered entertainment initiatives, managing the department’s social media, creating engaging and informative graphics for celebratory heritage months and speaking on panels about best practices for recruitment seasons. Her work ensured the equal accessibility and opportunity to the impactful seats of the entertainment world, both in front of and behind the camera.
As a Communication and Entrepreneurship student at the University of Southern California, Cape used her academics to complement and further her passions of inclusion. She has directed her own research across two major studies: “An Exploratory Study into Neurodiverse Visibility in Television and Streaming” and “A Meta-Analysis of Linguistic History Towards Intersectional Feminism”. Cape’s success has led her to join USC’s Annenberg Inclusion Initiative as a research assistant, where she codes new media for diversity metrics and progress.