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Bio – Lab 2021 Mid-Career

Julia Skikavich

RespectAbility Entertainment Professionals Lab, Summer 2021

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Julia Skikavich

Julia Skikavich is an award-winning screenwriter and journalist whose writing has been hailed for its timely women-centric approach in tackling intractable social issues. [continue reading…]

Sam Zapiain

RespectAbility Entertainment Professionals Lab, Summer 2021

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Sam Zapiain

Sam Zapiain is a Director and Editor based in Los Angeles, CA. After graduating from University of Nevada, Las Vegas Film in 2013, Sam quickly started his career in camera-related & post-production editing roles. He gained experience in reality TV, live events, television, and film, oftentimes focusing on long-from narratives. He currently focuses on roles as an Editor and Digital Imaging Technician. [continue reading…]

Diane J. Wright

RespectAbility Entertainment Professionals Lab, Summer 2021

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Diane J. Wright

Diane is a screenwriter and a DEI-certified creative content consultant. She collaborates with producers, directors, and screenwriters on screenplays, bibles, pitch decks, and casting to create entertainment with authentic, inclusive, respectful representation of historically excluded communities.

Diane brings lived experience as an Afro-Caribbean, biracial, invisibly disabled Canadian-American, a neurodivergent perspective, advanced degrees in narrative and behavioral studies, and experience across multiple formats and genres. Her projects have secured notable cast and greenlight funding, taken top prizes at premiere festivals, and have been broadcast and released internationally. Her original works have won multiple awards and placed in competition including in the top 15% in the Nicholl Fellowship.

After learning she’s autistic with ADHD at the age of 42, Diane founded Autastic.com, a community of thousands of late-identified autistic adults and some of the only spaces dedicated to autistic people of color.

Get in touch @dianejwright (TW) @JinJin3000 (IG) and at dianejwright.com.
[continue reading…]

Sarah Granger

RespectAbility Entertainment Professionals Lab, Summer 2021

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Sarah Granger

Sarah Granger is a writer and producer with a background in technology and media. She studied computer science, playwriting, and screenwriting at the University of Michigan before gravitating to California, where she spent her early career in high-tech. In 2006, Sarah sustained pelvic nerve damage while delivering her daughter, leading to permanent neuralgia and a pivot to writing — first as a journalist and author, then later as a screenwriter. [continue reading…]

Juliet Romeo

RespectAbility Entertainment Professionals Lab, Summer 2021

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Juliet Romeo

Born in Trinidad, raised in Brooklyn, New York. Juliet Romeo is an award-winning filmmaker now living in South Florida. Diagnosed with Sickle Cell Disease as a newborn, her perseverance and passion could be seen early on. Lengthy hospital stays honed her skill and love of reading and writing stories. Juliet has written over a dozen short screenplays, documentaries, and series. She often uses her life experience as a Caribbean, women of color with a disability to create unique and authentic narratives and content that impact people’s lives in positive ways. She writes romance, comedy, drama, Sci-fi and thrillers that are women centered and empowering, focus on social issues and bring awareness to amplify diverse and differently abled voices while still entertaining. Juliet also strongly believes in the importance of setting the scene to tell a great story and she is recognized as an art director on films such as, I Before Thee, 1Love, and Today, Like Yesterday.

After many obstacles she faced due to her health she received her degree in broadcast journalism from City College. In 2016 the abnormal breakdown of her red blood cells started to affect her breathing and she became oxygen dependent. Around that same time, she lost her best friend to Sickle Cell and she decided to shift her career to film, something she has always dreamed of doing. She picked up a camera and documented her personal journey. J.U.L.E.S was chosen for the debut season of PBS Film-Maker. It won the Doc Without Borders 2020 award and screened at the American Black Film Festival. She was one of thirteen filmmakers nominated by PBS and then selected for the Firelight Media Groundwork Lab 2019. She recently completed her second documentary for PBS “Art Of Warriors” highlighting the impact that COVID-19 had on the sickle cell community.

Noticing the need for more accessibility in mainstream film festivals, Juliet founded the UNSTOPPABLE Films program promoting disability and diversity inclusion in film. The program made its debut for Slamdance Film Festival 2021 with record-breaking numbers. Companies like Hulu, Google, YouTube and ARRAY supported and took part in her mission to create opportunities for differently abled filmmakers in spite of their disability. UNSTOPPABLE Films is a blueprint program for all festivals going forward to include, showcase and celebrate the brilliant works and stories of the disabled community.

Juliet is one of eight fellows in the Blackmagic Collective All Access initiative.

Learn More

After an extensive search and interview process, 30 individuals were invited to participate in RespectAbility’s Summer 2021 Lab for Entertainment Professionals. This 8-week, 24-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 22 – August 12, 2021. Participants include diverse people with physical, cognitive, sensory, mental health and other disabilities. This Lab is a recipient of The Roddenberry Foundation Impact Award. 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, The Harnisch Foundation, Pop Culture Collaborative, Sony Pictures Entertainment and The Walt Disney Company
  • Gold Sponsors: A&E and Final Draft
  • Silver Sponsors: NBCUniversal and ViacomCBS

Courtney Wold

RespectAbility Entertainment Professionals Lab, Summer 2021

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Courtney Wold

A high-energy director/writer/producer, Courtney Wold’s work is immersed in working-class, women-led stories. By 2012, she had produced, written, and directed short films, local access television, and commercials for small businesses before transferring to the University of Southern California for the Film and Television Production program. In 2013, Courtney won Best New Writer at the Action On International Film Festival for her feature screenplay Aisle 14 and produced USC’s first-ever foreign language undergraduate project (Pasaporte). In 2015, she started working with major brands (Campbells, Home Depot, Arbonne, Who Gives A Crap and more) to create branded content for a millennial audience. In 2016, Courtney produced and second unit directed the popular LGBTQIA web-series Go-Go Boy, Interrupted with Jimmy Fowlie and Jordan Black, winning a QWEERTY award. In the same year, she directed the second season of the Yahoo! show Mr. Right and was commissioned to adapt the WWII novel Star of David into a feature-length screenplay. After partnering with the world’s largest sex toy brand in 2017 to bring her show Tight to broader audiences, she signed a shopping agreement with Howie Mandell and Critical Content. In 2018, she wrote The Key Between My Fingers, detailing an experience she had at a gas station late at night. That short screenplay won four Best Screenplay awards, four Finalist selections, two official selections at festivals around the country. Courtney has produced high-profile music vides for artists like A$AP Rocky and multiple features over the last decade. She’s assistant directed for creators like Jay Mewes and worked with Netflix/Vanity Fair to write videos for the hit show 13 Reasons Why. She is also an accomplished consultant having built schedules, budgets, and re-writes for hundreds of projects in 22 countries. Courtney is currently working on the Guillermo Del Toro/Netflix Pinocchio movie as the APM while continuing to develop her feature film Paradise Ranch.

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Tameka Citchen-Spruce

RespectAbility Entertainment Professionals Lab, Summer 2021

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Tameka Citchen-Spruce

Tameka Citchen-Spruce has a strong passion for disability advocacy and media. It started at 21 years old, as Ms. Wheelchair MI 2006. As Ms. Wheelchair MI, she spoke out about supporting women with disabilities who are being abused. Two years later she formed Women Empower Inc, its mission was to empower women with disabilities to live their best lives. Later she studied Broadcast Television and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism from Oakland University. [continue reading…]

Amanda Upson

RespectAbility Entertainment Professionals Lab, Summer 2021

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Amanda Upson

Amanda Upson left traditional legal practice to produce movies, transitioning from labor and employment law at a large firm to independent producer. Her first film, Magnum Opus, a spy thriller with timely themes, secured wide distribution in 2018 and a spot at the Virginia Film Festival. She currently is producing A Long March, a social justice documentary, which is in post-production. In A Long March, three Filipino-American veterans trace their paths from war to erasure by the US Government, marching from an obscured history to the Federal courts, right up to the steps of Congress in search of promises denied. [continue reading…]

Anna Marr

RespectAbility Entertainment Professionals Lab, Summer 2021

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Anna Marr

Anna Marr is a bi-coastal writer, comedian, and actor based in Los Angeles. Originally from the Midwest, she graduated from Northwestern University with a focus in Playwriting and Theatre for Young Audiences. [continue reading…]

Cashmere Jasmine

RespectAbility Entertainment Professionals Lab, Summer 2021

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Cashmere Jasmine

Cashmere Jasmine is a first-generation disabled Afro-Caribbean writer and director from South Florida, who creates provocative surrealist dramas. Her brand is dramas revolve around taboos and the complexities of identity seen through lenses of class, race, sexuality, and even criminality; deconstructing perceptions with her real-life experiences and dark humor. [continue reading…]

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