RespectAbility Entertainment Professionals Lab, Summer 2022
Erika Salima Ellis was born in Philadelphia and grew up in both southern New Jersey and Philly. As a child, Ellis was enamored with “Tootie” from “The Facts of Life,”so she chose to go to a boarding school. Ellis made history as one of the first group of girls ever to be admitted to the formerly all-white male Girard College boarding school. Ellis’ 10-year journey in a unique educational experience gave birth to many stories and narratives. After graduation, Ellis attended college for a year and costs pushed her to enter the Navy. As a US Navy Gulf War-era veteran, Ellis pursued her dreams to work in finance…right between September 11th and the 2008 crash. The crash forced her into another new career path. With that, Ellis completed her degree in Public Relations from Rowan University and worked in Fashion in NYC, but she knew she wanted to be in the entertainment industry. Ellis moved to Los Angeles in 2007 and is now writing scripts and working on independent productions.
After an extensive search and interview process, 20 individuals were invited to participate in the Los Angeles Cohort of RespectAbility’s 2022 Entertainment Lab taking place June 7 – July 14, 2022. This 6-week, 18-session Lab aims to further develop and elevate the talent pipeline of diverse professionals with disabilities working behind-the-scenes in television, film, and streaming. Participants include people with physical, cognitive, sensory, mental health, and other disabilities ranging in age from people in their 20’s through their 50’s. The Lab is a recipient of The Roddenberry Foundation Impact Award.
The Los Angeles Cohort of the 2022 Entertainment Lab is made possible with support by:
- Platinum Sponsors: Murray/Reese Foundation and Netflix
- Gold Sponsors: The Harnisch Foundation, Sony Pictures Entertainment, and The Walt Disney Company
- Silver Sponsors: Hollywood Foreign Press Association Charitable Trust, the National Endowment for the Arts, and NBCUniversal
- Location Sponsors: Bunim-Murray Productions, DreamWorks Animation, Endeavor, Lionsgate, Nielsen, and ROSIES Foundation