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New PSA Spotlights Black Disabled Creatives

Los Angeles, Feb. 28 – In honor of Black History Month, RespectAbility, a diverse, disability-led nonprofit that works to create systemic change in how society views and values people with disabilities, produced a new PSA campaign featuring Black disabled creatives. All month, this PSA has been in rotation on WarnerMedia’s platforms including HBO Max AVOD and others.

The PSA’s message is the importance of building a more inclusive future for the more than 5.5 million Black Americans living with disabilities.

“To me, being Black and disabled means bringing all of my lived experience to the table,” actress and model Tatiana Lee says in the PSA. Lee, who uses a wheelchair, also served as a producer of this PSA.

Actor and comedian Harold Foxx, who is deaf, adds, “We can help others through recognizing their work and then helping them to unite with allies.”

Cast members represent a variety of visible and nonvisible disabilities, including autism, deafness, low vision, severe food allergies, and spina bifida. Each member of the cast also works in the entertainment industry, both in front of and behind the camera:

This 30-second PSA was directed by Andrew Reid, an alumnus of the 2020 RespectAbility Lab and current RespectAbility Entertainment Media Apprentice. Nasreen Alkhateeb was the Director of Photography. She is an alumna of the 2019 RespectAbility Lab and current RespectAbility advisor who most recently was Kamala Harris’ cinematographer. Every member of the crew comes from historically excluded backgrounds, including race, gender, sexual orientation, and disability. Of the 20-members of the cast and crew on location, 15 identify as being a person of color and 14 identify as being disabled.

“Our cast and crew show that it is easy to assemble a diverse team, and that doing so yields innovative content,” said Reid.

Evans, who served both as the DIT (digital imaging technician) in the crew as well as in the PSA as a background actor, added: “I have worked with a few diverse crews; none included creatives with disabilities in front of and behind the camera. This shoot was an awesome experience and a great example of a truly inclusive production.” Evans currently is serving as a RespectAbility Entertainment Media Apprentice.

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Meet the Author

Lauren Appelbaum

Lauren Appelbaum is the VP, Communications and Entertainment & News Media, of RespectAbility, a nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities so all people with disabilities can fully participate in every aspect of community. As an individual with an acquired nonvisible disability – Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy – she works at the intersection of disability, employment, Hollywood and politics. She regularly conducts trainings on the why and how to be more inclusive and accessible for entertainment executives throughout the industry. Appelbaum partners with studios, production companies and writers’ rooms to create equitable and accessible opportunities to increase the number of people with lived disability experience throughout the overall story-telling process. These initiatives increase diverse and authentic representation of disabled people on screen, leading to systemic change in how society views and values people with disabilities. She has consulted on more than 100 TV episodes and films with A&E, Bunim-Murray Productions, NBCUniversal, Netflix, ViacomCBS, and The Walt Disney Company, among others. She represents RespectAbility on the CAA Full Story Initiative Advisory Council, Disney+ Content Advisory Council, MTV Entertainment Group Culture Code and Sundance Institute’s Allied Organization Initiative. She is the author of The Hollywood Disability Inclusion Toolkit and the creator of an innovative Lab Program for entertainment professionals with disabilities working in development, production and post-production. She is a recipient of the 2020 Roddenberry Foundation Impact Award for this Lab. To reach her, email [email protected]

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