RespectAbility Entertainment Professionals Lab, Summer 2023
Maggie Whittum is a filmmaker, theatre artist, disability advocate, public speaker and stroke survivor. She is re-emerging into life as an artist, after having suffered a massive brainstem stroke (caused by a cavernous angioma) in 2014 at age 33. She just finished acting in the world-premiere immersive experience Theater of the Mind, created by David Byrne & Mala Gaonkar. She often performs with the ‘disability affirmative’ Phamaly Theatre Company in Denver, CO, which exclusively casts actors with disabilities. Previous theatre directing and producing credits include All in the Timing, The Zoo Story, Into the Woods and The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. She has directed and produced plays, musicals and improv comedy in Scotland, Colorado, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Beijing and throughout Canada. She also assistant-directed under Tony Award winner Rebecca Taichman and Peabody Award winner Emily Mann at McCarter Theatre in Princeton, NJ, where she was named the Charles Evans Fellow (2012). Commercial acting credits include MapQuest, Samsung and Starz/Encore.
Maggie speaks at conferences, universities, hospitals, and medical schools about her story of stroke, disability and identity. She has spoken at The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Georgetown Hospital, Craig Hospital, and the ACCAC ‘One World One Family’ Conference and Cultural Exchange Festival, among others. Maggie is a proud member of FWD-DOC (Documentary Filmmakers With Disabilities) and The D-Word (an online community for professionals in the documentary film industry). Maggie is executive producing and co-writing a feature length documentary film The Great Now What, about resilience in the aftermath of a major health crisis. The Great Now What is an empowering and life-affirming film that humanizes the experience of stroke, disability and chronic pain. It is currently in production and planned to be released in 2025.
Maggie’s goal in life is to engender more empathy and compassion in American society for people with disabilities. She is keen to create more visibility for disabled talent and more projects helmed by disabled people.
Maggie is a graduate of Colorado College.
After an extensive search and interview process, 20 individuals were invited to participate in the Los Angeles Cohort of RespectAbility’s 2023 Entertainment Lab taking place May 1 – June 9, 2023. This 6-week Lab aims to develop and elevate the talent pipeline of disabled entertainment professional working behind-the-scenes in television, film, and streaming, while connecting them with industry professionals and creatives. Participants include people with physical, cognitive, sensory, mental health, and other disabilities ranging in age the 20’s through the 50’s. The Lab is a recipient of The Roddenberry Foundation Impact Award.