Skip Navigation
Image of people smiling and posing for a photo

Bio – Emerging 2020

Sana Hussein

RespectAbility Entertainment Professionals Lab, Summer 2020

Sana Hussein smiling headshot

Sana Hussein

Sana Hussein is a recent college graduate from Southern Methodist University Cox School of Business. After graduation, she decided to chase her dream of becoming a storyteller instead of going to law school. She soon worked for Endemol Shine North America as an intern and it was there that she created a half-hour TV pilot and pitched it to development executives. Her pilot went on to become a finalist in the MPAC & Disney/ABC Television Group TV Comedy Lab. She also “almost won” Issa Rae and Paul Feig’s Teen Movie Contest. When she’s not writing screenplays, she’s studying for her business graduate degree because she loves having a backup plan. Sana is slowly inching towards her dream of becoming a professional storyteller that unites a global audience through socially and culturally relevant content. In her free time, she runs CreativeWOC which helps women of color find jobs, internships, and fellowships in the entertainment industry.

LEARN MORE

After an extensive search and interview process, 30 individuals were invited to participate in RespectAbility’s Summer 2020 Lab for Entertainment Professionals. This 5-week, 15-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 16 – July 16, 2020. Participants include diverse people with physical, cognitive, sensory, mental health and other disabilities. 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 and The Walt Disney Company
  • Gold Sponsors: Cast & Crew, Comcast NBCUniversal and Final Draft
  • Silver Sponsors: Fox Corporation and Sony Pictures Entertainment

Andrew Pilkington

RespectAbility Entertainment Professionals Lab, Summer 2020

Andrew Pilkington headshot

Andrew Pilkington

Andrew Pilkington is a producer living in Manhattan. He has worked for award-winning directors including Alex Gibney and Morgan Spurlock. Pilkington has produced four feature-length films, which he wrote, directed, edited and produced. He also created a series of videos that explored technology for people with disabilities in collaboration with the Institute of Human Centered Design. Pilkington has successfully funded his productions through crowdsourcing and other social media.

Born with cerebral palsy, Pilkington takes a nonchalant view of his disability. He is a graduate of the Harrington School of Communication and Media at the University of Rhode Island where he won the Film Excellence Award in 2014. He loves making movie magic. He produced and co-wrote Best Summer Ever, a feature musical starring actors with disabilities that was selected into the SXSW Film Festival 2020. It was awarded the Final Draft Screenwriter Award prize.

LEARN MORE

After an extensive search and interview process, 30 individuals were invited to participate in RespectAbility’s Summer 2020 Lab for Entertainment Professionals. This 5-week, 15-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 16 – July 16, 2020. Participants include diverse people with physical, cognitive, sensory, mental health and other disabilities. 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 and The Walt Disney Company
  • Gold Sponsors: Cast & Crew, Comcast NBCUniversal and Final Draft
  • Silver Sponsors: Fox Corporation and Sony Pictures Entertainment

Emily Kranking

RespectAbility Entertainment Professionals Lab, Summer 2020

Emily Kranking smiling headshot

Emily Kranking

Emily Kranking (Writer, Scripted/Children’s) is an upcoming actress and writer. Her first feature film Best Summer Ever, in which she stars as the bubbly cheerleader Nancy, was set to premiere at SXSW Film Festival this March. In return, Best Summer Ever digitally won SXSW’s Final Draft Screenwriters Award. She also wrote, directed and starred in the children’s short Sayler & Selena for last year’s Easterseals Disability Film Festival. Today, Kranking is the Communications Consultant at National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities. Her independent articles recently have been published on Yahoo and The Mighty. She previously worked at RespectAbility for a year as a Fellow for Employment & Policy and Hollywood Communications.

LEARN MORE

After an extensive search and interview process, 30 individuals were invited to participate in RespectAbility’s Summer 2020 Lab for Entertainment Professionals. This 5-week, 15-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 16 – July 16, 2020. Participants include diverse people with physical, cognitive, sensory, mental health and other disabilities. 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 and The Walt Disney Company
  • Gold Sponsors: Cast & Crew, Comcast NBCUniversal and Final Draft
  • Silver Sponsors: Fox Corporation and Sony Pictures Entertainment

Alexander Howard

RespectAbility Entertainment Professionals Lab, Summer 2020

Alexander Howard smiling headshot

Alexander Howard

Growing up in Los Angeles, Alex Howard visited various famous filming locations like the LA River, in Northridge, where Arnold Schwarzenegger rode his motorcycle in Terminator 2: Judgement Day. That trip was a defining moment in his childhood, sparking his fascination with movies and the mind-bending stories they can tell. Howard earned a bachelor’s degree in Cinema and Television from California State University, Northridge in 2015. He has had several internships, including KTTV, Atmosphere Entertainment and Phoenix Pictures where he worked for producer Mike Medavoy. While interning, Howard fell in love with the development process. He believes the core of every good piece of entertainment is a solid, compelling and interesting story. Most recently, Howard was a temp for Warner Brothers on long-term assignment at DC Comics.

Growing up, Howard had a number of undiagnosed physical conditions that often left him feeling alone and a little different from his friends. He found some comfort in watching movies and television as a way to connect with others and reveal worlds full of inspiration. This past year, Howard was diagnosed as one of only 17 people in the world with a rare mitochondrial disorder called MePAN. One of the most significant symptoms of MePan is limited vision. Howard is proactive in finding ways to use technology to overcome his disabilities and is a passionate advocate of audio description for all media, everywhere. Howard’s ultimate goal is to help those with any kind of disability enjoy films and television so that, hopefully, more people will be able to connect and share a love for entertainment.

LEARN MORE

After an extensive search and interview process, 30 individuals were invited to participate in RespectAbility’s Summer 2020 Lab for Entertainment Professionals. This 5-week, 15-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 16 – July 16, 2020. Participants include diverse people with physical, cognitive, sensory, mental health and other disabilities. 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 and The Walt Disney Company
  • Gold Sponsors: Cast & Crew, Comcast NBCUniversal and Final Draft
  • Silver Sponsors: Fox Corporation and Sony Pictures Entertainment

Amanda Burdine

RespectAbility Entertainment Professionals Lab, Summer 2020

Amanda Burdine smiling headshot with her hand on her chin

Amanda Burdine

Amanda Burdine is originally from Indiana where she grew up writing novels in her free time. This interest changed to screenwriting when she realized she already was envisioning her novels as films and made the logical leap. She received her MFA in Writing for Stage and Screen from New Hampshire Institute of Art in 2017. There, she explored and refined her passion for writing about mental illness, LGBT issues, death, dark humor and the supernatural all while coping with the sudden death of her mother and her boyfriend’s heroin addiction. Since then she has been involved with Female Eye Film Festival’s Script Development program in 2018 for her screenplay ​Barnabas is Dead,​ which won Best Low Budget Indie. In 2019 she was a Fellow for Middlebury Script Lab for her screenplay ​Dead Dad​.

Her life has taken a strange turn in 2020. Her husband, who struggled with substance abuse and untreated mental health issues through their relationship, died from an overdose in February. She currently is spending time with friends and family kind enough to let her and her two dogs crash with them while she seeks employment and focuses on grieving and managing her mental illnesses. She lives with chronic depression, anxiety, and borderline personality disorder, a widely stigmatized and misunderstood personality disorder that makes it hard for her to understand appropriate emotional responses and regulate her emotions. Through her stories, Burdine hopes to destigmatize and create a better understanding of mental illness.

LEARN MORE

After an extensive search and interview process, 30 individuals were invited to participate in RespectAbility’s Summer 2020 Lab for Entertainment Professionals. This 5-week, 15-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 16 – July 16, 2020. Participants include diverse people with physical, cognitive, sensory, mental health and other disabilities. 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 and The Walt Disney Company
  • Gold Sponsors: Cast & Crew, Comcast NBCUniversal and Final Draft
  • Silver Sponsors: Fox Corporation and Sony Pictures Entertainment

Mimi Newman

RespectAbility Entertainment Professionals Lab, Summer 2020

Mimi Newman smiling headshot

Mimi Newman

Mimi Newman spent several of her teenage years in and out of hospital, which led her to feel like she didn’t have a place in the world. When doctors told her to “make her dreams smaller,” she almost broke from the weight of that statement. Newman is an Annenberg Fellow from the 2020 MFA Class of the John Wells Division of Writing for Film and Television from the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts. So much for small dreams…

Constantly underestimated by doctors, Newman learned to cope by amassing empathy in buckets and a strong ability listen, both of which lead her to build characters with deep emotional landscapes. Her characters’ lives often are thrown out of control and their stories help them find hope within the madness. Newman holds a diploma from London’s Central School of Speech and Drama and her play, Explosion of a Memory, was performed in their black box theater. Her feature script, Beside the Seaside, was a quarterfinalist in 2020 BlueCat Screenplay Competition and her pilot, Chronic Connections is a semi-finalist for WeScreenplay Diverse Voices. She is a Londoner through and through and kindly begs you not ask if her if she’s Australian —the hybridization can only be attributed to her Texan wife.

LEARN MORE

After an extensive search and interview process, 30 individuals were invited to participate in RespectAbility’s Summer 2020 Lab for Entertainment Professionals. This 5-week, 15-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 16 – July 16, 2020. Participants include diverse people with physical, cognitive, sensory, mental health and other disabilities. 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 and The Walt Disney Company
  • Gold Sponsors: Cast & Crew, Comcast NBCUniversal and Final Draft
  • Silver Sponsors: Fox Corporation and Sony Pictures Entertainment 

Laura Alsum

RespectAbility Entertainment Professionals Lab, Summer 2020

Laura Alsum smiling headshot

Laura Alsum

Born with a rare form of Muscular Dystrophy, Laura Alsum spent her childhood enjoying less physically demanding pastimes, including reading books, watching television and movies, and creating elaborate stories with her dolls (complete with high-stakes drama, backstabbing and murder mysteries). Pursuing a writing career seemed like the next logical step.

Alsum earned an MFA in Screenwriting from UCLA where she won an Alfred P. Sloan prize for her original script Survival of the Fittest. Since then, she has written additional feature screenplays, a novel and television pilots. She co-wrote a webseries, Disability Etiquette, for Denver’s Phamaly Theatre Company and wrote a short film for Women in Film and Media Colorado, which was produced for a TEDx Mile High session. She is drawn to stories about complex characters who explore life beyond its day-to-day meaning.

LEARN MORE

After an extensive search and interview process, 30 individuals were invited to participate in RespectAbility’s Summer 2020 Lab for Entertainment Professionals. This 5-week, 15-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 16 – July 16, 2020. Participants include diverse people with physical, cognitive, sensory, mental health and other disabilities. 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 and The Walt Disney Company
  • Gold Sponsors: Cast & Crew, Comcast NBCUniversal and Final Draft
  • Silver Sponsors: Fox Corporation and Sony Pictures Entertainment

Kiah Amara

RespectAbility Entertainment Professionals Lab, Summer 2020

Kiah Amara smiling headshot

Kiah Amara

Originally from the rural Midwest, Kiah Amara is an New York City based filmmaker, interdisciplinary artist, consultant and activist. Her work focuses on identity, fluidity, intersectionality, commonality, misconception and all things “deviant from normal.”

In 2018, they founded IndieVISIBLE Entertainment, a production group and artist collective empowering radicalized representation and intersectionality in media. Prioritizing the voices and stories of Queer Crip Womxn, projects are led by female and nonbinary, LGBTQ+ and neuro- and ability- diverse artists (Disabled, d/Deaf, Autistic, Limb Different, Chronically Ill, etc). IndieVISIBLE champions an accessible and welcoming process on and off camera, Sensory Friendly Sets, and utilizing varied mediums to share unique perspectives.

As a queer, chronically ill, and neurodiverse person with a need for ASL, Amara draws on interconnected experience yet leads with Allyship for Deaf and Disabled artistry and activism.

Films: The Vanished [Disability Film Challenge Winner, Best Awareness Campaign], Identity Pas De Deux, November Ninth, The Announcement, Acting With Cupid. New York Deaf Theatre, ActionPlay, Co/Lab, DANT, NYC Children’s Theatre.

LEARN MORE

After an extensive search and interview process, 30 individuals were invited to participate in RespectAbility’s Summer 2020 Lab for Entertainment Professionals. This 5-week, 15-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 16 – July 16, 2020. Participants include diverse people with physical, cognitive, sensory, mental health and other disabilities. 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 and The Walt Disney Company
  • Gold Sponsors: Cast & Crew, Comcast NBCUniversal and Final Draft
  • Silver Sponsors: Fox Corporation and Sony Pictures Entertainment

Brian Binkley

RespectAbility Entertainment Professionals Lab, Summer 2020

Brian Binkley headshot smiling

Brian Binkley

Brian Binkley was born and raised in Jasper, Indiana, in the heart of the Midwest. His mother taught his younger brother and him “The Golden Rule” was always most important: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Even before he knew the meaning of diversity and inclusion, Binkley was open-minded and welcoming of anyone he met regardless of their background or how they identified.

Binkley enlisted in the Indiana Army National Guard as a combat Infantryman (11 Bravo) during high school and was training at Fort Benning, Georgia, on September 11, 2001. In 2004, he deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and was awarded “Soldier of the Quarter.” During this deployment, when he had free time, Binkley ordered books and completed his entire first year of college online. He attended classes at Indiana University studied Media & Entertainment: Consulting & Psychology in 2005-2007 until he was deployed again to Iraq, this time in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Since transitioning out of the military in 2010, Binkley has continued ongoing rehabilitative care with the VA for his service-connected disabilities including hearing loss and leg and back injuries, as well as seeing supportive counseling services.

Binkley moved to Los Angeles after his military service for an internship at The Collective Management Group as he wanted to be a rock-genre music manager. He soon was offered a full-time job there as an executive assistant with a cross-over talent manager in the television department. Over the next several years, Binkley worked extended temporary roles as a development assistant at Zodiac Americas (now part of the Banijay Group) and as a legal coordinator at NBCUniversal. During this time, he completed a Certificate in Television Writing from the UCLA-Extension Program.

Binkley pivoted into the public sector in 2015, where he worked as a Fellow in L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti’s Office of Veteran & Military Affairs assisting their team’s goal of hiring 10,000 veterans in Los Angeles. Over the next few years, he would work in roles with the Department of Veterans Affairs to assist hiring 1,000,000 veterans nationwide and at the School of Social Work with the University of Southern California (USC) at a new mental health clinic after becoming a Certified Peer Support Specialist.

Working at the clinic is where he believes he learned more about TV & Film than any other job in his career. At the clinic, Binkley assisted clients to improve their and their families’ quality of life the same way we all do in TV & Film where we provide the characters with options and they make decisions. Lastly, he worked as a Business Service Representative under the State of California which ultimately led him to becoming the current Chairman of the Los Angeles Veteran Employment Committee assisting all veterans in the City of Los Angeles and their spouses with finding sustainable employment.

Binkley completed a well-known PA 101 for Veterans program in 2017 that trains military veterans to be a Production Assistant. Experience gained after working on Emmy, PGA, WGA, and DGA Award winning television series and even some feature films projects over the next few years as a Set PA gave Binkley the knowledge to produce, write and (trainee) direct his first short film How Many Degrees of Service for the Easterseals Disability Film Challenge focusing on a disability that many people don’t think about: substance abuse.

He recently participated a new 6-month program: the CBS Leadership Pipeline Challenge after being nominated into the program as a writer. As a Producer / Writer, Binkley is currently packaging projects of his own as well as with other talent. Long term, he hopes to continue using his voice as a STRONG ALLY in all areas of diversity & inclusion initiatives within the media and entertainment industry and sign a studio deal to develop content.

LEARN MORE

After an extensive search and interview process, 30 individuals were invited to participate in RespectAbility’s Summer 2020 Lab for Entertainment Professionals. This 5-week, 15-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 16 – July 16, 2020. Participants include diverse people with physical, cognitive, sensory, mental health and other disabilities. 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 and The Walt Disney Company
  • Gold Sponsors: Cast & Crew, Comcast NBCUniversal and Final Draft
  • Silver Sponsors: Fox Corporation and Sony Pictures Entertainment

Natasha Mooney Walton

RespectAbility Entertainment Professionals Lab, Summer 2020

Natasha Walton smiling headshot

Natasha Mooney Walton

Natasha Mooney Walton spent the first nine years of her career working as a product management and design leader at a number of startups and tech companies in Silicon Valley. After her company was acquired by Adobe in 2016, she helped create the company’s disability employee resource group, AccessAdobe.

In 2018, Walton founded Tech Disability Project, the first and only industrywide initiative dedicated to tech employees with disabilities. As a disability advocate and organizer, she’s learned the importance of storytelling in elevating underrepresented experiences. She is now leveraging her product management background to transition into unscripted television production in order to shape the disability stories we see on screen. Walton creates and curates disability culture content on Instagram at @disability.connect.

LEARN MORE

After an extensive search and interview process, 30 individuals were invited to participate in RespectAbility’s Summer 2020 Lab for Entertainment Professionals. This 5-week, 15-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 16 – July 16, 2020. Participants include diverse people with physical, cognitive, sensory, mental health and other disabilities. 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 and The Walt Disney Company
  • Gold Sponsors: Cast & Crew, Comcast NBCUniversal and Final Draft
  • Silver Sponsors: Fox Corporation and Sony Pictures Entertainment
1 2
Respect Ability - Fighting Stigmas. Advancing Opportunities.

CONTACT US

East Coast: 11333 Woodglen Drive, #102, Rockville, MD 20852

West Coast: 5115 Wilshire Blvd, #231, Los Angeles, CA 90036

Office Number: 202-517-6272

Email: info@respectability.org

GUIDESTAR PLATINUM

RespectAbility and The RespectAbility Report is a GuideStar Platinum Participant. GuideStar Platinum Participant Logo
© 2021 RESPECTABILITY. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. SITE DESIGN BY COOL GRAY SEVEN   |   SITE DEVELOPMENT BY WEB SYMPHONIES   |      SITEMAP

Back to Top

Translate »