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Bio – Lab 2020

Lauren Appelbaum

Lauren Appelbaum, RespectAbility Vice President, Communications and Entertainment & News Media and Lab Founder

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Lauren Appelbaum, Vice President of Communications

Lauren Appelbaum is the VP, Communications and Entertainment & News Media, of the disability advancement nonprofit RespectAbility, a nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities so people with disabilities can fully participate in all aspects of community. As an individual with an acquired nonvisible disability – Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy – she works at the intersection of disability, employment, Hollywood and politics. She regularly conducts trainings on the why and how to be more inclusive and accessible for entertainment executives throughout the industry.

Appelbaum partners with studios, production companies and writers’ rooms to create equitable and accessible opportunities to increase the number of people with lived disability experience throughout the overall story-telling process. These initiatives increase diverse and authentic representation of disabled people on screen, leading to systemic change in how society views and values people with disabilities. She has consulted on more than 100 TV episodes and films with A&E, Bunim-Murray Productions, NBCUniversal, Netflix, ViacomCBS, and The Walt Disney Company, among others. She represents RespectAbility on the CAA Full Story Initiative Advisory CouncilDisney+ Content Advisory CouncilMTV Entertainment Group Culture Code and Sundance Institute’s Allied Organization Initiative.

She is the author of The Hollywood Disability Inclusion Toolkit and the creator of an innovative Lab Program for entertainment professionals with disabilities working in development, production and post-production. She is a recipient of the 2020 Roddenberry Foundation Impact Award for this Lab.

Appelbaum is a sought-after expert and has been quoted by many national publications including Associated PressDeadlineThe Hollywood Reporter, IndieWire, The Los Angeles Jewish JournalThe New York Times, RealScreenReutersTabletUSA Today, Variety and The Washington Post. She has spoken on panels at the RealScreen Summit, Sundance Film Festival and SXSW, among others.

Born and raised in the Philadelphia area, Appelbaum has a master’s degree in Broadcast Journalism from Syracuse University; she also has undergraduate degrees from Columbia University and the Jewish Theological Seminary. She serves on several national and local nonprofit boards. Appelbaum currently lives in Maryland with her husband, daughter and dog.

Contact Lauren Appelbaum

Reach Appelbaum at LaurenA@RespectAbility.org or on Twitter @laurenappelbaum.

Tatiana Lee

Tatiana Lee, RespectAbility Senior Entertainment Media Associate

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Tatiana Lee, Inclusionist

Tatiana Lee is an award-winning actress, international model and Hollywood influencer. She serves as a Hollywood Inclusion Associate at RespectAbility, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to fight stigmas and advance opportunities so people with disabilities can fully participate in all aspects of community.

Growing up in Coatesville, Pennsylvania, Lee felt unseen in popular media – and when she told people of her ambitions to be an actress and model, they laughed.

Notwithstanding, Lee moved to Los Angeles to pursue her acting career. She learned how to harness social media’s power to speak boldly about accessibility and inclusion in mass media, due to the lack of access and opportunities for herself and others with disabilities.

She is the voice behind the Accessible Hollywood brand, which highlights her journey as an actress, model and lifestyle influencer born with Spina Bifida.

She quickly has become a sought-after speaker for brands like Apple, Bank of America, Human Rights Watch and the LA Film Festival, to name a few.

Lee was in one of Apple’s first ad campaigns featuring people with disabilities using Apple’s accessible features and products.  Some of Lee’s credits include “Stand Up,” which premieres at Superfest during fall 2020 and “Coffee with Tim Cook, CEO of Apple.”

She also has appeared in modeling campaigns for Target, Zappos, Apple and more. She was the 2018 recipient of the Reeves Acting Scholarship from The Christopher & Dana Reeves Foundation for her contribution to further disability inclusion in film and media.

Currently working at RespectAbility, Lee consults on a variety of TV and film projects, conducts training for studios and production companies including NBCUniversal, Netflix and The Walt Disney Company, and assists with RespectAbility’s Lab for Entertainment Professionals with Disabilities.

In her spare time, Lee continues to train and grow momentum in her acting and modeling endeavors.

Nasreen Alkhateeb

Nasreen Alkhateeb, Senior Production Advisor

RespectAbility Entertainment Professionals Lab, 2020 and 2021

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Nasreen Alkhateeb

An award-winning cinematographer, Nasreen’s work amplifies under-represented voices by illuminating racial injustice, marginalized youth, melting ice, women peacekeepers, and the construction of the largest telescope NASA has ever attempted. Nasreen has a plethora of lenses she sees the world through. Her ability to motivate audiences is a direct result of being multi-heritage, BiPOC, 1st generation American, and making work through a disabled lens.

In 2020, Nasreen was chosen as the Lead Cinematographer for Kamala Harris’ successful Vice Presidential campaign, and Oprah’s series Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man. In 2019, she executive produced East of the River that screened the Tribeca Film Festival and Slamdance, and she captured two campaigns for NASA and the Women’s March, in addition to the Director of Photography on two narrative films highlighting LGBTQ and disabled storylines. In 2016, Nasreen was awarded Cinematographer of the Year by NASA for her coverage of Operation IceBridge.

Nasreen has participated in the SUNDANCE Film Festival and developed programing for AFI DOCS, the Nantucket Film Festival, the Brooklyn International Film Festival, CINE, TIVA, and the EMMYS. She is a Senior Production Advisor at RespectAbility, and a mentee of the American Society of Cinematographers.

Speaking engagements: Disney’s The Power of Inclusion, TED, AwesomeCon, StoryCode, Filmgate Miami, Light City Baltimore, NASA Women in Action, Bus Boys & Poets, PORTALS, AMPM, Manhattan Mornings, George Washington University, Ohio University, and Pratt Institute

Her content can be seen on Harpo Productions, NASA, Netflix, Amazon, IFC, BBC, NPR, UNITED NATIONS, SXSW, AMC, Discovery, and WITNESS.

Leah Romond

Leah Romond, Senior Production Advisor

RespectAbility Entertainment Professionals Lab, 2020 and 2021

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Leah Romond

Leah Romond is an attorney, producer and advocate for full disability inclusion in film and television production.

Romond’s recent project, Best Summer Ever, is a feature-length original musical created entirely by an integrated cast and crew of talent with and without disabilities. The film was slated to begin its festival run with a SXSW 2020 World Premiere, and was awarded the SXSW Final Draft Screenwriters Award. While the festival run has been halted indefinitely due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, Romond continues to work toward authentic disability representation in front of and behind the camera.

Lizzy Francis

Lizzy Francis, Lab Program Intern

RespectAbility Entertainment Professionals Lab, Summer 2020

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Lizzy Francis

Lizzy Francis is a screenwriting major studying to create safe spaces for all groups of people, regardless of identity or ability.

She was born in Wayland, Massachusetts as a second-generation immigrant. At the age of 17, she was diagnosed with Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Anorexia, resulting in numerous hospitalizations and a revelation that led to a passion of storytelling and activism through film, especially regarding mental illness and racial issues.

In 2017, Francis worked on an SXSW award-winning film in Vermont that aimed to integrate a crew and cast of people both with and without disabilities.

She wrote her first screenplay in 2017, which confirmed her love for filmmaking. Her second was written in 2018, winning a Communicator Award.

After graduating high school in 2019 at the age of 18, she moved to Los Angeles by herself to pursue a career as a screenwriter and an advocate for those without a voice.

Respect Ability - Fighting Stigmas. Advancing Opportunities.

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