Skip Navigation
Image of people smiling and posing for a photo

Bio – Emerging 2020

Roque Renteria

RespectAbility Entertainment Professionals Lab, Summer 2020

Roque Renteria headshot smilingRoque Gregorio Renteria was born in Los Angeles, California. Growing up he was glued to the television screen and quickly developed a love for storytelling. Since both his parents are originally from Mexico, he was able to enjoy stories in both English and Spanish, which helped him appreciate foreign films early on.

At the age of 14, he had a spinal cord injury, which left him partially paralyzed, but on the bright side he got a brand-new wheelchair. Seeing the world from a new perspective (his eyes are now at waist level) Renteria started to write jokes about his predicament. This led him to pursue a career in stand-up comedy. He has been featured on Comedy Central, Jeff Ross Presents Roast Battle II, and Amazon Prime. And, if he can find a pit crew to accompany him, he travels and performs comedy both locally and internationally.

Renteria graduated from California State University, Long Beach where he majored in English. During that time, he was involved with student activism involving better accessibility and guest lectured on the subject of representation of disability in mass media. He later graduated from UCLA’s School of Theater, Film and Television with an MFA in Screenwriting. He has used his training as a screenwriter to write for Comedy Central, SoulPancake, and co-wrote short films for the Easterseals Disability Film Challenge. Renteria enjoys telling jokes and deconstructing institutions on stage. When he’s not performing across the country, you can find him pushing around the streets of Los Angeles. And when he is not pushing, he is locked in his room trying to write his next page. He believes that laughter is great medicine, but you should consult with your doctor to see if his comedy is right for you.

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

Carin Powell

RespectAbility Entertainment Professionals Lab, Summer 2020

Carin Powell smiling headshot

Carin Powell

Carin Powell is the creator, writer, and director of the forthcoming animated short With The Beat. Having gotten her start as a 3D animator, Powell rose through the ranks at Anamon Studios in San Francisco, becoming a lead animator and fix team lead on their short film, Let’s Eat. In January of 2020, Powell – along with her producer Nora Ng-Quinn – co-founded Signing Animation, a California non-profit dedicated to correcting employment disparities for Deaf artists in the film industry.

This is a second career for Powell, who was a professional classical musician for fifteen years before transitioning to animation. Ever since her parents started explaining the special effects in Star Trek as a way to reassure 5-year-old Powell that the actors weren’t in danger, she’s been in love with movie magic, and she was inspired to switch to animation following a viewing of Pixar’s Monsters University. She had the good fortune to secure one-on-one lessons in Maya from animator Eric Cerda, then continued her education at Cañada College under Paul Naas, eventually learning and working at Michal Makarewicz’s Animation Collaborative in Emeryville. It was there Powell learned about Anamon Studios. After Let’s Eat successfully wrapped, she decided to use her leadership experience to make a difference in her industry by empowering Deaf/Hard of Hearing artists to tell stories about Deaf culture in the medium she loves.

Today, Powell and her dedicated crew are in visual development on their short With The Beat, a story of artistic truism and the power of embracing one’s identity. Production updates and opportunities can be found at signinganimation.com

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

Elisabeth Good

RespectAbility Entertainment Professionals Lab, Summer 2020

Elizabeth Good smiling headshot

Elizabeth Good

Elisabeth Good is excited to be involved in the RespectAbility Summer Lab program this year. She has a diverse background in theatre and film. She received her college degree in theatre from Illinois State University. Over the years her interest in acting for people with disabilities has grown. Theatre was a safe and welcoming environment for her in high school. She was born with cerebral palsy. After gaining a college degree she moved back to her hometown in South Bend, Indiana where film and casting caught her interest. Her latest film project as a script supervisor was Best Summer Ever.

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 

Lesley Hennen

RespectAbility Entertainment Professionals Lab, Summer 2020

Lesley Hennen smiling headshot

Lesley Hennen

Lesley Hennen is a writer, producer, filmmaker and recovering publicist currently based in Chicago. She is a recent graduate of the Harold Ramis Film School (HRFS) at The Second City, currently the only film school of its kind devoted entirely to comedic storytelling.

Originally from the suburbs of Minneapolis, Hennen received a bachelor’s degree with a focus on Media & Communications from New York University’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study. While in New York City, Hennen began taking improv and sketch classes at the Magnet Theater, where she honed her comedy writing and improvising skills under the instruction of top teachers including Armando Diaz, Christina Gausas and more. She also completed levels one and two of improv at Upright Citizens Brigade in NYC, one year of Improv for Filmmakers at The Second City Chicago, and has performed at several venues across New York City with various indie improv teams over the years.

Hennen’s latest project, an award-winning comedy-horror short film titled, Birthday Bitch, which she wrote, produced and directed while at HRFS, is about a woman who seeks revenge after no one shows up to her 30th birthday party. Birthday Bitch currently is making its way through the festival circuit and will be released online in late 2020.

Hennen also won a screenwriting fellowship award upon graduation from HRFS in 2019 for her web series that she wrote titled, Uninspired, based on her personal experiences as a young woman living with a moderate physical disability. The series follows the day-to-day life of a stubborn and abrasive young woman who wears leg braces due to a congenital birth defect, as she navigates the awkward, frustrating, yet often comedic moments of daily life that arise when interacting with non-disabled people who are unsure of how to treat her. Hennen also developed Uninspired into a full-length pilot, and it recently was selected as one of five scripts to be pitched to HBO at the 2020 Women in Comedy Film Festival.

When she isn’t writing or producing, Hennen enjoys cooking, traveling, exercising, and forcing everyone she meets to look at photos of her miniature Dachshund, Kevin.

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

Rachel Handler

RespectAbility Entertainment Professionals Lab, Summer 2020

Rachel Handler smiling headshot

Rachel Handler

Rachel Handler is an actor and filmmaker based in New York City. She won the AT&T Underrepresented Filmmaker Award for her short, Committed, and the Sundance Co//ab June Monthly Challenge for her script, The A Doesn’t Stand for Accessible. Since joining the disabled community, she has found a passion for writing, producing and directing; advocating for inclusion in every project she creates. Her writing/producing credits include the award-winning short films, The Housewarming, Committed, The Vanished, and Authentically Me, which won the ReelAbilities’ 27 Second Film Competition and screened in taxi cabs throughout New York City. Handler’s TV acting credits include Law & Order: SVU, Goliath, New Amsterdam, Bull and NCIS: New Orleans.

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 Fisher

RespectAbility Entertainment Professionals Lab, Summer 2020

Andrew Fisher smiling headshot wearing a sweatshirt

Andrew Fisher

Andrew Fisher is a writer and stand-up comedian. A Stand-Up NBC finalist, he has been expanding his audiences by performing at colleges and universities across the country. As far as he can tell, being a deaf comedian is no different from being a hearing one. He writes jokes, he travels, and he sometimes even has hecklers — or so he’s told.

In addition to writing for the Chris Gethard Presents show, Fisher has developed and written a webseries entitled (un)Settled. He also has written and produced the comedic short film Plan Z, in which a couple who slips up has to decide: would they want to keep this theoretical pregnancy, or should they go find Plan B? Also, it takes place in a post-apocalyptic world full of zombies and stuff.

Fisher is represented by Sophie K 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

Topher González Ávila

RespectAbility Entertainment Professionals Lab, Summer 2020

Topher González Ávila smiling headshot

Topher González Ávila

Topher González Ávila was born in Mexico and grew up in Texas. He’s Deaf and so are his parents, siblings and some of his uncles, aunts and cousins! In the day, he works in education and on the side, he works as a freelance video editor. He studied Radio, Television and Film at University of North Texas. He has filmed and edited for companies and businesses. There are infinite things to enjoy but for Topher, scriptwriting and directing are his endgame. He always has been writing scripts since he can remember.

As a Brown Queer Deaf person, González Ávila never embraced the person he is until his mid-twenties. He believes it has to do with media and how whitewashed it can be. He grew up without BIPOC Deaf role models and especially without Queer Deaf role models. The world as it is right now is a lot different than the world González Ávila grew up in. There is a lot more representation in media now but more representation is needed. He hopes to bring more Deaf stories to the screen so the Deaf communities can be represented more. And so that the world can see more humanity in the Deaf communities beyond their disabilities. There is so much to the “Deaf” world from sign languages to cultural customs to everything else. Filmmaking is one way to shed more light on this world.

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

Ava Xiao-Lin Rigelhaupt

RespectAbility Entertainment Professionals Lab, Summer 2020

Ava Xiao-Lin Rigelhaupt smiling headshot

Ava Xiao-Lin Rigelhaupt

Ava Xiao-Lin Rigelhaupt (she/her/hers) is a writer, consultant, actress, public speaker, and advocate for disability and autism representation in the entertainment industry.

In June 2021, Rigelhaupt joined the Nickelodeon Live Action Casting Team for their immersive internship. Additionally, she’s an Autistic Creative Consultant on a developing musical (dir. Sammi Cannold), How to Dance in Ohio, based on the HBO documentary of the same name. [continue reading…]

1 2
Respect Ability - Fighting Stigmas. Advancing Opportunities.

CONTACT US

Mailing Address:
RespectAbility
43 Town & Country Drive
Suite 119-181
Fredericksburg, VA 22405

Office Number: 202-517-6272

Email: [email protected]

GUIDESTAR PLATINUM

RespectAbility and The RespectAbility Report is a GuideStar Platinum Participant. GuideStar Platinum Participant Logo
© 2022 RESPECTABILITY. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. SITE DESIGN BY COOL GRAY SEVEN   |   SITE DEVELOPMENT BY WEB SYMPHONIES   |      SITEMAP

Back to Top

Translate »