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Bio – Emerging

Austin Vance

RespectAbility Entertainment Professionals Lab, Summer 2019

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Austin Vance

Austin Vance graduated from the Help Group Village Glen School. He currently attends the Performing Arts Studio West and the Spectrum Laboratory. He is an actor, dancer, animator and the creator of “The Vally.”

LEARN MORE

After an extensive search and interview process, 22 individuals were invited to participate in RespectAbility’s Summer 2019 Lab for Entertainment Professionals. This 5-week, nine-session innovative 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, takes place June 18 – July 18, 2019. 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: Comcast NBCUniversalJonathan Murray and The Walt Disney Company.

Marc Muszynski

RespectAbility Entertainment Professionals Lab, Summer 2019

Marc Musynzski smiling headshot

Marc Musynzski

Marc is a writer, comedian, game designer and Duolingo Spanish attempter who, despite being visually impaired, once convinced someone to let him fly an airplane. Marc earned his Bachelor’s Degree in theater from Illinois State University.

He most recently wrote an episode for the NBC comedy, Abby’s, while working as the writers’ assistant. Originally from Chicago, Marc toured the country performing comedy before landing in Los Angeles. His videos for BuzzFeed, Funny or Die and Honest Trailers have more than 40 million views.

LEARN MORE

After an extensive search and interview process, 22 individuals were invited to participate in RespectAbility’s Summer 2019 Lab for Entertainment Professionals. This 5-week, nine-session innovative 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, takes place June 18 – July 18, 2019. 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: Comcast NBCUniversalJonathan Murray and The Walt Disney Company.

Stephanie Rancier

RespectAbility Entertainment Professionals Lab, Summer 2019

Stephanie Rancier smiling headshot

Stephanie Rancier

When Stephanie Rancier first saw E.T. the Extra Terrestrial as a very young child, she was scared to pieces and vowed to never lay eyes on the movie. Some years later while recovering from a life-changing medical trauma at 19-years-old, she broke her vow—after all, the hospital’s movie supply wasn’t infinite…. About two hours later, on a routine check, a caring nurse was suddenly alarmed with concern when she saw tears streaming down her face. She looked up at her and said, “Elliott doesn’t have his friend anymore.”

Even still, she always tells anyone who may inquire about her favorite films that E.T. taught her how to cry. “We all have certain movies and TV series that will always hold a special place in our hearts and memories — E.T. is just one of my favorites, but my second viewing experience is certainly when I realized that I wanted to help others by making impactful stories that hopefully have significant meaning for others whether though tears, laughter, or hopefully both.”

Ever since, she sprung from that hospital in her native Texas, she has been on an untiring quest to fulfill her goal and work in the film and television industry. While finishing her Bachelor’s degree in History from Texas A&M, she got the news she earned admission to the graduate program at the USC Film School for Film and TV production. While earning her Master’s degree, she quickly learned that producing is not only her strong suit, but also the ultimate career goal I continue to work passionately for.

LEARN MORE

After an extensive search and interview process, 22 individuals were invited to participate in RespectAbility’s Summer 2019 Lab for Entertainment Professionals. This 5-week, nine-session innovative 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, takes place June 18 – July 18, 2019. 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: Comcast NBCUniversalJonathan Murray and The Walt Disney Company.

Leah Romond

RespectAbility Entertainment Professionals Lab, Summer 2019

Leah Romond smiling headshot

Leah Romond

Leah Romond is an attorney, advocate, and artist. While working as a commercial litigation attorney in state and federal court for an international law firm, she experienced a brain injury as a result of viral encephalitis.

Following her injury, she had the great fortune to become involved with two organizations that are instrumental in her healing journey – the Love Your Brain Foundation and Zeno Mountain Farm. Love Your Brain supports wellness and healing for brain injury survivors and their loved ones through community, meditation, yoga, and retreats. Zeno Mountain Farm is a community of individuals with and without disabilities who gather throughout the year. No one at Zeno is treated differently because of their abilities or disabilities. Everyone contributes their own unique gifts for the betterment of the group. The Zeno community has been making short films for more than a decade. Romond is an associate producer on Zeno’s first feature-length film, Ready to Ride, which currently is in post-production. The movie will be the first SAG-AFTRA-registered feature in which half of the cast and crew have disabilities.

Having experienced life without a disability (and understanding what it is like to operate under ableist assumptions) and having experienced life with a disability (and understanding the related nuances and challenges), Romond hopes to bridge the gap between those two worlds through story telling. Although her life changed drastically following her injury, the underlying drive that propelled her prior to her injury remains strong.

Romond received her Juris Doctor from the University of San Diego, where she graduated Cum Laude and Order of the Coif. She served as the Managing Editor of the San Diego International Law Journal and was Magister of the Phi Delta Phi Honor Society. While attending USD, she was a recipient of the Academic Achievement Scholarship and the Law Honor Scholarship. She received her Bachelor of Arts in philosophy and anthropology from Wake Forest University. She graduated Magna Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa, and was an Order of Omega Greek Scholar. In her free time, she enjoys improv comedy and fosters shelter dogs and puppies.

LEARN MORE

After an extensive search and interview process, 22 individuals were invited to participate in RespectAbility’s Summer 2019 Lab for Entertainment Professionals. This 5-week, nine-session innovative 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, takes place June 18 – July 18, 2019. 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: Comcast NBCUniversalJonathan Murray and The Walt Disney Company.

Avian Anderson

RespectAbility Entertainment Professionals Lab, Summer 2019

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Avian Anderson

Avian Anderson is a professional storyboard artist and character designer. She has worked for studios such as Warner Brothers, Hasbro, Dreamworks, and various other animation studios. She earner her BFA in Illustration from the Rhode Island School of Design.

Avian has ADHD, depression and anxiety but likes to think of her disorders like The Hulk. A superpower with the ability to help or hinder, that simply must be managed. The disorders plus the skills she learned from managing them became very useful in working in animation: her ability to create ideas at rapid speed thanks to her hyper connected brain, her sense of humor she developed from trying to beat her depression, and her ability to come up with multiple outcomes, which is helpful in story creation and file management. She would like to create a cartoon showing how much differences can be like superpowers.

LEARN MORE

After an extensive search and interview process, 22 individuals were invited to participate in RespectAbility’s Summer 2019 Lab for Entertainment Professionals. This 5-week, nine-session innovative 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, takes place June 18 – July 18, 2019. 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: Comcast NBCUniversalJonathan Murray and The Walt Disney Company.

Amelia Bernstein

RespectAbility Entertainment Professionals Lab, Summer 2019

Amelia Bernstein smiling headshot

Amelia Bernstein

Amelia Bernstein was born Deaf, to Deaf parents in the Bay Area, growing up bilingual in American Sign Language and English. After graduating with a Bachelors Degree in Digital Arts from Chapman University, she has been freelancing as a 2D animator and storyboard artist in the greater Los Angeles area. In her free time, she writes plays and teaches historical crafts at the Renaissance Pleasure Faire.

LEARN MORE

After an extensive search and interview process, 22 individuals were invited to participate in RespectAbility’s Summer 2019 Lab for Entertainment Professionals. This 5-week, nine-session innovative 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, takes place June 18 – July 18, 2019. 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: Comcast NBCUniversalJonathan Murray and The Walt Disney Company.

April Caputi

RespectAbility Entertainment Professionals Lab, Summer 2019

April Caputi smiling headshot

April Caputi

April Caputi is a 2017 Bachelor of Cinema & Media Arts graduate from Biola University with an emphasis in Production. She developed an interest in talent representation and casting when she became aware that actors with disabilities often are misrepresented in the media. After temping as a Talent Casting Coordinator for Disneyland Live Entertainment, April became a Casting Assistant for AMC Network’s first show, This Close, to be created, written by, and starring Deaf actors. She led a Deaf Community Outreach Initiative to cast roles where Deaf actors and minors were needed. 

April would like to continue developing initiatives to bridge the gap between the entertainment industry and the disability community. Currently, April is looking for opportunities where she can incorporate inclusion through scouting a diverse array of talented actors or consulting on how to ensure authentic disability representation on screen.

LEARN MORE

After an extensive search and interview process, 22 individuals were invited to participate in RespectAbility’s Summer 2019 Lab for Entertainment Professionals. This 5-week, nine-session innovative 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, takes place June 18 – July 18, 2019. 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: Comcast NBCUniversalJonathan Murray and The Walt Disney Company.

La’Rina Carolina

RespectAbility Entertainment Professionals Lab, Summer 2019

La'Rina Carolina headshot smiling

La’Rina Carolina

La’Rina Carolina is a webshow host and advocate for the Deaf community. La’Rina was born hearing in Los Angeles, California. When she was two months old, she became sick with a fever of 104, causing her to become Deaf. American Sign Language is her first language. 

La’Rina graduated from Antelope Valley College, with her Associate of Arts degree in computer graphics, and from Devry University College with her Bachelor of Science degree in Multimedia Design and Development. La’Rina has a great love and passion in graphic designing.

La’Rina currently is freelancing and her goal is to work for a TV network in digital advertising. She has her own photography business and a web show, the RiRI show, which she uses to advocate for the Deaf community about our life experience and Deaf culture. 

She wants to empower Deaf children’s hearing parents to learn sign language so they can communicate with their deaf children. La’Rina’s goal is to make sure that Deaf children are happy, and live in a home where there is communication in American Sign Language so they will never have to feel alone. 

LEARN MORE

After an extensive search and interview process, 22 individuals were invited to participate in RespectAbility’s Summer 2019 Lab for Entertainment Professionals. This 5-week, nine-session innovative 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, takes place June 18 – July 18, 2019. 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: Comcast NBCUniversalJonathan Murray and The Walt Disney Company.

Michael Dougherty

RespectAbility Entertainment Professionals Lab, Summer 2019

Michael Dougherty smiling headshot

Michael Dougherty

The son of a former Catholic priest and nun, Michael Dougherty is a Jesuit-trained Irish New Yawkuh, who grew up at a table where religion and movies were the soups du jour. He has had brain surgery ten times, twice involving a power drill to the skull, which may explain his ambivalence toward the medical profession, but also his love of horror movies and black comedy. A world traveller, Michael has cage-dived with Great White sharks, ridden an elephant through a rubber tree forest, kissed the grave of Oscar Wilde, and climbed two mountains on two separate continents – on crutches. His love of art, particularly Frida Kahlo’s, has led him from drawing to modeling, giving way to a greater empathy of how we see ourselves and how others see us. He’s learned everything about love from Charlie Brown’s pining for the Little Red-Haired Girl, everything about courage from his Uncle Peter, the only FDNY chief ever killed in the line of duty, and everything else from Samuel Beckett’s “Waiting for Godot,” which confirms Michael’s greatest belief, “If we’re all going over the edge, and we are, shouldn’t we hold hands on the way down?”

LEARN MORE

After an extensive search and interview process, 22 individuals were invited to participate in RespectAbility’s Summer 2019 Lab for Entertainment Professionals. This 5-week, nine-session innovative 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, takes place June 18 – July 18, 2019. 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: Comcast NBCUniversalJonathan Murray and The Walt Disney Company.

Marissa Erickson

RespectAbility Entertainment Professionals Lab, Summer 2019

Marissa Erickson headshot on the beach

Marissa Erickson

Marissa Erickson is a Freelance Film Production Crew member with on-set experience. She believes that all people, no matter their ability, deserve to have their story told. Marissa lives that philosophy every single day; from immersing herself in her studies and graduating from Wayfinder at Fresno State, California, to her dedication in learning the film industry at Joey Travolta’s Inclusion Film Workshop.

Marissa brought her “Can Do” attitude to three feature-film productions that have taken her on location across the states to Vermont, Georgia and Colorado. She can be found working behind the camera, in craft food services and as an on-set PA and Boom Microphone Operator. Marissa enjoys the challenge and the rewards of living a story worth telling.

She currently is working on a student film production as a set designer.

LEARN MORE

After an extensive search and interview process, 22 individuals were invited to participate in RespectAbility’s Summer 2019 Lab for Entertainment Professionals. This 5-week, nine-session innovative 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, takes place June 18 – July 18, 2019. 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: Comcast NBCUniversalJonathan Murray and The Walt Disney Company.

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