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Alys Murray: RespectAbility Entertainment Lab Alum Pushing for Diversity in Christmas Movies

Alys Murray headshot

Alys Murray

RespectAbility Entertainment Lab alumna Alys Murray had two Christmas films – A New Orleans Noel and My Southern Family Christmas – premiere last week.

Murray, who started out as a novelist, says that screenwriting is less lonely than writing novels because it is more collaborative. “There is a lot less crying” involved in screenwriting because she does not have to be alone with her thoughts, and she has others to “bounce ideas off of.”

For Murray, the Entertainment Lab was similar, providing her with invaluable connections with other disabled creatives she can go to when she needs advice, both for her career or for her disability. For instance, she pitched a pilot featuring a protagonist who uses a wheelchair, only to get pushback from executives on the feasibility of having a protagonist who uses a wheelchair. Upon telling the cohort what happened, Murray had newfound confidence and was able to keep her convictions and push for the protagonist to stay as-is. She said for the first time, she had people who understood her experience with disability. The Lab provided her with the space to be proud of her disabled identity, and as a result, she has reason to fight for better disability representation.

Murray also discussed how exciting it is to be a screenwriter pushing for more diversity in the industry, especially in the sphere of Christmas movies, which have often centered white straight nondisabled experiences. She was able to write the first Christmas Hallmark movie featuring a lesbian couple.

Although Murray has made significant strides in pushing for inclusive Christmas movies, she has yet to sell one featuring disability. She hopes to one day “break [this] glass ceiling,” so that everyone can see themselves represented in romance movies.

You can watch A New Orleans Noel on Lifetime and My Southern Family Christmas on the Hallmark Channel.

Meet the Author

Erica Mones

Erica Mones (she/her) is an Entertainment and News Media Apprentice in RespectAbility’s National Leadership Program for Fall 2022. She is a writer, YouTuber, and disability advocate who is currently pursuing her Masters in Disability Studies from the CUNY School of Professional Studies. She hopes to pave the way for disabled people through screenwriting.

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