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Sam Zapiain

RespectAbility Entertainment Professionals Lab, Summer 2021

Sam Zapiain headshot smiling

Sam Zapiain

Sam Zapiain is a Director and Editor based in Los Angeles, CA. After graduating from University of Nevada, Las Vegas Film in 2013, Sam quickly started his career in camera-related & post-production editing roles. He gained experience in reality TV, live events, television, and film, oftentimes focusing on long-from narratives. He currently focuses on roles as an Editor and Digital Imaging Technician.

Outside of work, Sam develops and produces passion projects, often short films, based on personal inspiration. As his career has grown, he has taken on ambitious projects with expected, yet grueling hours and stressful work environments.

In November of 2017, Sam received a harsh reality check. At the age of 27, he was diagnosed as a Type II diabetic. The invisible disease made it even harder to balance work and personal life. It took time for Sam to acclimate to the idea of having diabetes, managing the near-constant risks, and reducing the unpredictably debilitating effects — all of which seemed based on simple (but often very complex) diet choices. It was a silent tug of war match, affecting eyesight, kidney function, the nervous system, hunger, thirst, and even rationality. Only a few years later, he was hospitalized and discovered he had been misdiagnosed. Sam was actually a Type I, meaning he was officially dependent on insulin intake. Despite medicinal/diet practice, the constant conflict had to be managed in the only way Sam knew how to: through his art medium.

Based on his experiences, Sam directed his award-winning film, Always (2019), exploring the disease’s symptoms in short horror format. The film was recognized with multiple awards (Best Director, Cinematography, Actor, Editing) from film festivals in major U.S. cities including New York, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas.

Not only has Sam felt a renewed inspiration for film, but also has discovered the boundless urge to advocate for furthering self-awareness on the illness. He hopes his story connects others in need of solidarity and helps audiences understand the way diseases, visible or not, can have long-lasting impact on people from different walks of life.

Learn More

After an extensive search and interview process, 30 individuals were invited to participate in RespectAbility’s Summer 2021 Lab for Entertainment Professionals. This 8-week, 24-session virtual summer Lab series for people interested in – and with experience in – development, production and post-production, including careers as writers, directors, producers, cinematographers, animators and other production roles, will take place June 22 – August 12, 2021. Participants include diverse people with physical, cognitive, sensory, mental health and other disabilities. This Lab is a recipient of The Roddenberry Foundation Impact Award. Learn more: www.respectability.org/respectability-la-lab.

This program, which continues building the talent pipeline of young professionals with disabilities looking to work behind the scenes, is made possible with support by:

  • Platinum Sponsors: Murray/Reese Foundation, The Harnisch Foundation, Pop Culture Collaborative, Sony Pictures Entertainment and The Walt Disney Company
  • Gold Sponsors: A&E and Final Draft
  • Silver Sponsors: NBCUniversal and ViacomCBS

Meet the Author

Eric Ascher

Eric Ascher is the Communications Associate for RespectAbility. He is responsible for supporting RespectAbility’s Vice President, Communications in developing and implementing advocacy efforts and communications of various types. Ascher manages RespectAbility’s social media channels, website and emails; organizes and develops webinars; and supervises Communications Fellows.

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