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Bio – Lab 2022 In-Person

Abigail Bruley

RespectAbility Entertainment Professionals Lab, Summer 2022

Abigail Bruley headshot

Abigail Bruley

Writer/Director Abigail Bruley received a double BS in film and screenwriting from Drexel University where she studied under Ian Abrams, creator of the sci-fi television series Early Edition.

After studying comedy writing and performance at Upright Citizen’s Brigade and People’s Improv Theater and under teachers like Michael Showalter, she created the cult web series “Down the Show.”The series garnered much love from the comedy community and attracted top talent like Janeane Garofalo, Eddie Pepitone, and Kevin McDonald, earning Bruley a Writer’s Guild nomination.

After acquiring a Traumatic Brain Injury in 2013, she emerged from recovery having written a feature, “Main Remains,” writing and directing two supporting short films, “Main Blessings” (starring indie-rock legend Ted Leo) and “Main Absolves” and taking on the ambitious task of writing a funny and relatable brain-injured patient in her short film, “On the Dot.”

Learn More

After an extensive search and interview process, 20 individuals were invited to participate in the Los Angeles Cohort of RespectAbility’s 2022 Entertainment Lab taking place June 7 – July 14, 2022. This 6-week, 18-session Lab aims to further develop and elevate the talent pipeline of diverse professionals with disabilities working behind-the-scenes in television, film, and streaming. Participants include people with physical, cognitive, sensory, mental health, and other disabilities ranging in age from people in their 20’s through their 50’s. The Lab is a recipient of The Roddenberry Foundation Impact Award.

The Los Angeles Cohort of the 2022 Entertainment Lab is made possible with support by:

  • Platinum Sponsors: Murray/Reese Foundation and Netflix
  • Gold Sponsors: The Harnisch Foundation, Sony Pictures Entertainment, and The Walt Disney Company
  • Silver Sponsors: Hollywood Foreign Press Association Charitable Trust, the National Endowment for the Arts, and NBCUniversal
  • Location Sponsors: Bunim-Murray Productions, DreamWorks Animation, Endeavor, Lionsgate, Nielsen, and ROSIES Foundation

Crystal Garcia

RespectAbility Entertainment Professionals Lab, Summer 2022

Crystal Garcia headshot

Crystal Garcia

Crystal Garcia (she, her, hers) is a disabled, bisexual, Chicana filmmaker. Her work focuses on uplifting marginalized people, especially centering on disabled people, as they are often not centered in the media as authentic and complex characters.

After graduating from Cerritos College with her Associate’s degree in Film Production, Garcia transferred to California State University, Fullerton, and further delved into the craft of storytelling and film. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Cinema and Television Arts and majored in Women and Gender Studies because she knew if she wanted to tell authentic stories, she needed to also learn about intersectionality and equity. Garcia previously interned as a film mentor/teacher at a nonprofit organization, where she was able to help marginalized middle school and high school students learn to craft the stories they wanted to tell and how to express themselves through all aspects of film. She then went on to intern at a film production company as a business and production development intern, where she helped her mentors network and gain clients. She also worked as a media intern at It Gets Better, a nonprofit organization spreading positive stories about LGBTQ+ people.

When she is not spending time with her three other disabled siblings, family, or partner, she can be found writing her novels on stories about powerful, disabled, Latina witches, a story about a transgender guy with his newly zombified girlfriend, or even the infamous Dracula who also happens to be bisexual. Garcia hopes to adapt these magical stories as an established writer one day and then continue to adapt her work as a showrunner or director in television and film. This would then let her continue to work on stories that uplift marginalized voices in work where they are purely existing and not a trope. The more people see a person they are not used to seeing in the media, the more people will see that those stories and voices are just as deserving of being in the spotlight.

Learn More

After an extensive search and interview process, 20 individuals were invited to participate in the Los Angeles Cohort of RespectAbility’s 2022 Entertainment Lab taking place June 7 – July 14, 2022. This 6-week, 18-session Lab aims to further develop and elevate the talent pipeline of diverse professionals with disabilities working behind-the-scenes in television, film, and streaming. Participants include people with physical, cognitive, sensory, mental health, and other disabilities ranging in age from people in their 20’s through their 50’s. The Lab is a recipient of The Roddenberry Foundation Impact Award.

The Los Angeles Cohort of the 2022 Entertainment Lab is made possible with support by:

  • Platinum Sponsors: Murray/Reese Foundation and Netflix
  • Gold Sponsors: The Harnisch Foundation, Sony Pictures Entertainment, and The Walt Disney Company
  • Silver Sponsors: Hollywood Foreign Press Association Charitable Trust, the National Endowment for the Arts, and NBCUniversal
  • Location Sponsors: Bunim-Murray Productions, DreamWorks Animation, Endeavor, Lionsgate, Nielsen, and ROSIES Foundation

David Bornstein

RespectAbility Entertainment Professionals Lab, Summer 2022

David Bornstein on a film set next to a camera

David Bornstein

David Bornstein is a writer, director, and an elusive SoCal native. Born and raised in Laguna Hills, California, he currently hails from Burbank. An alumnus of Saddleback College and the University of Arizona’s film programs, Bornstein has directed and written over half a dozen short films and sketches. Bornstein’s short film “A King’s Betrayal” was released to critical acclaim on the festival circuit in 2015, screening in over 50 film festivals and winning half a dozen awards, including placing as a finalist in the Francis Ford Coppola Short Film Competition. “A King’s Betrayal” went on to be selected as a Vimeo Staff Pick and picked up by the YouTube channel Omeleto, among other accolades. In 2020, Bornstein started branching out into directing music videos, most notably directing a handful of videos for VMA-winning platinum artist Damian Lemar Hudson, whose self-titled debut album was released on Bobby Boy Records/Def Jam. Bornstein’s most recent short film “Unholy ‘Mole” is currently winding down its festival run. Featuring the voiceover talents of Ray Wise (Twin Peaks, Fresh Off The Boat, RoboCop, etc.), “Unholy ‘Mole” has screened at over 50 film festivals worldwide including the Seattle International Film Festival and can now be found available to buy or rent on Vimeo On Demand. Currently, he is developing multiple short and feature film projects, with several music videos in post-production.

Learn More

After an extensive search and interview process, 20 individuals were invited to participate in the Los Angeles Cohort of RespectAbility’s 2022 Entertainment Lab taking place June 7 – July 14, 2022. This 6-week, 18-session Lab aims to further develop and elevate the talent pipeline of diverse professionals with disabilities working behind-the-scenes in television, film, and streaming. Participants include people with physical, cognitive, sensory, mental health, and other disabilities ranging in age from people in their 20’s through their 50’s. The Lab is a recipient of The Roddenberry Foundation Impact Award.

The Los Angeles Cohort of the 2022 Entertainment Lab is made possible with support by:

  • Platinum Sponsors: Murray/Reese Foundation and Netflix
  • Gold Sponsors: The Harnisch Foundation, Sony Pictures Entertainment, and The Walt Disney Company
  • Silver Sponsors: Hollywood Foreign Press Association Charitable Trust, the National Endowment for the Arts, and NBCUniversal
  • Location Sponsors: Bunim-Murray Productions, DreamWorks Animation, Endeavor, Lionsgate, Nielsen, and ROSIES Foundation

Eden Hadad

RespectAbility Entertainment Professionals Lab, Summer 2022

Eden Hadad headshot

Eden Hadad

Eden Hadad is an Israeli immigrant and a Yemenite-Libyan writer and director based in Los Angeles. Influenced by his upbringing and his joyful point of view, Hadad is a dark comedy genre-bending filmmaker that cares deeply for his characters’ hearts. After finishing his mandatory military service in 2010, Hadad enrolled at the Sam Spiegel Film School in Jerusalem. Upon graduation in 2015, Hadad received three national grants to complete “The Disposers,” which he directed and co-wrote. Since premiering at the 2016 Raindance Film Festival in London, Hadad’s film has won and played at more than 50 film festivals worldwide, including Santa Barbara, Boston, and Sonoma. The short was later sold to Israel’s most prestigious movie channel, YES5.

Later in 2016, Hadad received a merit-based grant that made it possible for him to attend the MFA Film program in screenwriting & directing at Columbia University in New York, where he has developed his feature scripts and tv projects. In 2021, Hadad directed “The Stunt Double,” a short, serialized narrative podcast produced by Fictionz. In early 2022, Hadad was selected to be part of the inaugural program named 1IN4, which supports disabled creatives.

When he was 12 years old, Hadad was diagnosed as neurodivergent and was prescribed Methylphenidate. The doctors explained that for his brain to feel “normal,” he’ll need to pop a pill every four hours for the rest of his life. Thankfully, Hadad discovered cinema at that same age – which was the only drug he ever needed. A high-school dropout with an MFA diploma from Columbia University, Hadad has been using his “abnormal” brain for writing and directing. Creating characters and worlds that only he can come up with, Eden is using all the mental baggage that he carries from his childhood and his army days so that he can lift the audience with his specific humor and cinematic suspense.

Learn More

After an extensive search and interview process, 20 individuals were invited to participate in the Los Angeles Cohort of RespectAbility’s 2022 Entertainment Lab taking place June 7 – July 14, 2022. This 6-week, 18-session Lab aims to further develop and elevate the talent pipeline of diverse professionals with disabilities working behind-the-scenes in television, film, and streaming. Participants include people with physical, cognitive, sensory, mental health, and other disabilities ranging in age from people in their 20’s through their 50’s. The Lab is a recipient of The Roddenberry Foundation Impact Award.

The Los Angeles Cohort of the 2022 Entertainment Lab is made possible with support by:

  • Platinum Sponsors: Murray/Reese Foundation and Netflix
  • Gold Sponsors: The Harnisch Foundation, Sony Pictures Entertainment, and The Walt Disney Company
  • Silver Sponsors: Hollywood Foreign Press Association Charitable Trust, the National Endowment for the Arts, and NBCUniversal
  • Location Sponsors: Bunim-Murray Productions, DreamWorks Animation, Endeavor, Lionsgate, Nielsen, and ROSIES Foundation

Emily Timmerman

RespectAbility Entertainment Professionals Lab, Summer 2022

Emily Timmerman headshot

Emily Timmerman

Emily Timmerman is a writer and producer from Saint Louis, MO. She writes female-driven stories, inspired by her own life experiences living prior to and with her acquired non-visible disabilities. Timmerman’s production credits range from music videos and gritty narratives, to creative shorts, commercial profiles, and corporate work. She co-produces MCA Day, a charity concert in Brooklyn, NY, honoring Adam Yauch of the Beastie Boys. She produced, wrote, directed, and starred in a four-part American Female trailer suite. Screenings were held across USA, Europe, and Asia.

St. Louis Mayor Slay crowned Timmerman “Most Romantic St. Louis Author” in response to her debut novel, American Female. The audiobook was recorded at Nelly’s E.I. Studios, and became a contender at the Grammys.

She is editor of the musical biography “Jon B: R U Still Down?”, and the forthcoming “Deep Inside: Story of Mary J. Blige.”

Timmerman studied film production and editing in New York under award-winning broadcast journalist Samson Styles, “the first to report news with a du-rag and fitted,” Michael Rosenblum, creator of CurrentTV, sold to AlJazeera, and former BBC executive Lisa Lambden. Her disabilities have evolved over the years, beginning with a multi-level cervical spinal cord injury, and resulting in Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) and severe allodynia. Timmerman holds a BA in Sociology, MA in Political Science, and has a background in government and non-profits.

Learn More

After an extensive search and interview process, 20 individuals were invited to participate in the Los Angeles Cohort of RespectAbility’s 2022 Entertainment Lab taking place June 7 – July 14, 2022. This 6-week, 18-session Lab aims to further develop and elevate the talent pipeline of diverse professionals with disabilities working behind-the-scenes in television, film, and streaming. Participants include people with physical, cognitive, sensory, mental health, and other disabilities ranging in age from people in their 20’s through their 50’s. The Lab is a recipient of The Roddenberry Foundation Impact Award.

The Los Angeles Cohort of the 2022 Entertainment Lab is made possible with support by:

  • Platinum Sponsors: Murray/Reese Foundation and Netflix
  • Gold Sponsors: The Harnisch Foundation, Sony Pictures Entertainment, and The Walt Disney Company
  • Silver Sponsors: Hollywood Foreign Press Association Charitable Trust, the National Endowment for the Arts, and NBCUniversal
  • Location Sponsors: Bunim-Murray Productions, DreamWorks Animation, Endeavor, Lionsgate, Nielsen, and ROSIES Foundation

Erika Ellis

RespectAbility Entertainment Professionals Lab, Summer 2022

Erika Ellis headshot

Erika Ellis

Erika Salima Ellis was born in Philadelphia and grew up in both southern New Jersey and Philly. As a child, Ellis was enamored with “Tootie” from “The Facts of Life,”so she chose to go to a boarding school. Ellis made history as one of the first group of girls ever to be admitted to the formerly all-white male Girard College boarding school. Ellis’ 10-year journey in a unique educational experience gave birth to many stories and narratives. After graduation, Ellis attended college for a year and costs pushed her to enter the Navy. As a US Navy Gulf War-era veteran, Ellis pursued her dreams to work in finance…right between September 11th and the 2008 crash. The crash forced her into another new career path. With that, Ellis completed her degree in Public Relations from Rowan University and worked in Fashion in NYC, but she knew she wanted to be in the entertainment industry. Ellis moved to Los Angeles in 2007 and is now writing scripts and working on independent productions.

Learn More

After an extensive search and interview process, 20 individuals were invited to participate in the Los Angeles Cohort of RespectAbility’s 2022 Entertainment Lab taking place June 7 – July 14, 2022. This 6-week, 18-session Lab aims to further develop and elevate the talent pipeline of diverse professionals with disabilities working behind-the-scenes in television, film, and streaming. Participants include people with physical, cognitive, sensory, mental health, and other disabilities ranging in age from people in their 20’s through their 50’s. The Lab is a recipient of The Roddenberry Foundation Impact Award.

The Los Angeles Cohort of the 2022 Entertainment Lab is made possible with support by:

  • Platinum Sponsors: Murray/Reese Foundation and Netflix
  • Gold Sponsors: The Harnisch Foundation, Sony Pictures Entertainment, and The Walt Disney Company
  • Silver Sponsors: Hollywood Foreign Press Association Charitable Trust, the National Endowment for the Arts, and NBCUniversal
  • Location Sponsors: Bunim-Murray Productions, DreamWorks Animation, Endeavor, Lionsgate, Nielsen, and ROSIES Foundation

Jackie Todd

RespectAbility Entertainment Professionals Lab, Summer 2022

Jackie Todd headshot

Jackie Todd

Jackie Todd is a Chicago-born screenwriter and producer. Her documentary work has been featured by The Washington Post and National Geographic. She produced several award-winning narrative short films including “Lost Boy” (2013), which was the winner of the Viewers’ Choice Award at GATFFEST Film Festival and was the writer/director of “Permits & Approvals” (2020), which was the Special Selection at OtherWorlds Film Festival and Nevermore Film Festival.

Her current production projects include “Diary of a Cyborg,” a documentary about the endless odyssey of diagnostics and interventions when living with a rare medical condition and its satellite comorbidities. Having recently finished her MFA in Creative Producing at Columbia University, Todd focuses on screenwriting. Residing primarily in sci-fi, fantasy, and dark comedy genres, Todd infuses her scripts with grit and raw honesty, exploring family dynamics and the emotional and physical toll of living with chronic illness, disability, and trauma.

Learn More

After an extensive search and interview process, 20 individuals were invited to participate in the Los Angeles Cohort of RespectAbility’s 2022 Entertainment Lab taking place June 7 – July 14, 2022. This 6-week, 18-session Lab aims to further develop and elevate the talent pipeline of diverse professionals with disabilities working behind-the-scenes in television, film, and streaming. Participants include people with physical, cognitive, sensory, mental health, and other disabilities ranging in age from people in their 20’s through their 50’s. The Lab is a recipient of The Roddenberry Foundation Impact Award.

The Los Angeles Cohort of the 2022 Entertainment Lab is made possible with support by:

  • Platinum Sponsors: Murray/Reese Foundation and Netflix
  • Gold Sponsors: The Harnisch Foundation, Sony Pictures Entertainment, and The Walt Disney Company
  • Silver Sponsors: Hollywood Foreign Press Association Charitable Trust, the National Endowment for the Arts, and NBCUniversal
  • Location Sponsors: Bunim-Murray Productions, DreamWorks Animation, Endeavor, Lionsgate, Nielsen, and ROSIES Foundation

Jacqueline Gerdne

RespectAbility Entertainment Professionals Lab, Summer 2022

Jacqueline Gerdne smiling headshot

Jacqueline Gerdne

Jacqueline Gerdne is a writer and director who began her filmmaking journey when her middle school teacher handed her the school’s iPad and told her to shoot something. With a passion for horror, the result was an awful home remake of The Ring (2002) where she played Samara crawling out of the TV. That was the end of her acting career but not her filmmaking career. Since then, she has become a British Film Institute Film Academy alumni (BFIFA) and earned her B.A. in Film and TV Production at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and minored in Asian Languages and Cultures.

Growing up, disability wasn’t discussed, despite her struggling with math and writing and later being diagnosed with dyscalculia and dysgraphia. It was simply treated like something she had to work hard to overcome. Her life experiences have fueled her desire to make socially conscious films that spark real conversation and highlight proud and bold disabled, POC, LGBTQ+, and female-centered stories through character-driven, visual storytelling.

Her UCLA thesis film “Shatter,” aimed to break stereotypes about chronic illness and disability by opening a discussion about Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD). The underrepresented condition falls through the cracks between endocrine and mental health, two topics heavily stigmatized in society. Gerdne was diagnosed with PMDD after five years of medical gaslighting, misdiagnosis, and being told that she was exaggerating. She is actively trying to spread awareness and education so that no one else will go through the same dismissal and misunderstanding she experienced.

Learn More

After an extensive search and interview process, 20 individuals were invited to participate in the Los Angeles Cohort of RespectAbility’s 2022 Entertainment Lab taking place June 7 – July 14, 2022. This 6-week, 18-session Lab aims to further develop and elevate the talent pipeline of diverse professionals with disabilities working behind-the-scenes in television, film, and streaming. Participants include people with physical, cognitive, sensory, mental health, and other disabilities ranging in age from people in their 20’s through their 50’s. The Lab is a recipient of The Roddenberry Foundation Impact Award.

The Los Angeles Cohort of the 2022 Entertainment Lab is made possible with support by:

  • Platinum Sponsors: Murray/Reese Foundation and Netflix
  • Gold Sponsors: The Harnisch Foundation, Sony Pictures Entertainment, and The Walt Disney Company
  • Silver Sponsors: Hollywood Foreign Press Association Charitable Trust, the National Endowment for the Arts, and NBCUniversal
  • Location Sponsors: Bunim-Murray Productions, DreamWorks Animation, Endeavor, Lionsgate, Nielsen, and ROSIES Foundation

Jeremy Hsing

RespectAbility Entertainment Professionals Lab, Summer 2022

Jeremy Hsing headshot smiling

Jeremy Hsing

Jeremy Hsing is a graduate of UCLA (B.A. Psychology, minors in Film and Art History) with a specialty in sci-fi/drama TV writing. He is passionate about using his psychology background and lived experience as a second-generation Taiwanese immigrant to amplify the voices of underrepresented communities. He is currently the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures Education and Public Engagement Intern, in partnership with the Academy Gold Rising Program and Getty Marrow Undergraduate Internship Program. Previously, he was a Development Intern at FilmNation, a Creative Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Intern at Warner Bros Discovery, and the AAPI Student Lead at The Center for Scholars & Storytellers.

When Hsing started his undergraduate education, he had a series of debilitating panic attacks that led him to seek professional mental health resources and was then diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder. Since then, he has unlearned the stigma surrounding mental health and devotes his life to telling stories to educate and inspire others to seek therapy in hopes of achieving emotional catharsis.

During the height of the pandemic, he wrote, produced, directed, and edited a deeply personal short titled “Iridescence,” which explored the intersectionality between mental health and the Asian American experience. Iridescence was spotlighted by RespectAbility, Daily Bruin, and UCLA Radio and achieved critical acclaim in numerous film festivals and writing competitions.

Born and raised in Chino Hills, California, Hsing is based out of Los Angeles. He loves to listen to music in his free time and views it as an art form. His favorite artist is Kendrick Lamar due to his lyricism and uncanny ability to articulate complex topics like intergenerational trauma and toxic masculinity, particularly in his most recent album “Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers.” Additionally, he is a die-hard fan of the Los Angeles Lakers. Kobe Bryant is his hero due to his Mamba mentality and passion for giving back to his community.

Learn More

After an extensive search and interview process, 20 individuals were invited to participate in the Los Angeles Cohort of RespectAbility’s 2022 Entertainment Lab taking place June 7 – July 14, 2022. This 6-week, 18-session Lab aims to further develop and elevate the talent pipeline of diverse professionals with disabilities working behind-the-scenes in television, film, and streaming. Participants include people with physical, cognitive, sensory, mental health, and other disabilities ranging in age from people in their 20’s through their 50’s. The Lab is a recipient of The Roddenberry Foundation Impact Award.

The Los Angeles Cohort of the 2022 Entertainment Lab is made possible with support by:

  • Platinum Sponsors: Murray/Reese Foundation and Netflix
  • Gold Sponsors: The Harnisch Foundation, Sony Pictures Entertainment, and The Walt Disney Company
  • Silver Sponsors: Hollywood Foreign Press Association Charitable Trust, the National Endowment for the Arts, and NBCUniversal
  • Location Sponsors: Bunim-Murray Productions, DreamWorks Animation, Endeavor, Lionsgate, Nielsen, and ROSIES Foundation

John McDonough

RespectAbility Entertainment Professionals Lab, Summer 2022

John McDonough smiling headshot

John McDonough

John McDonough was born in Chicago. His parents divorced, remarried, had a bunch of kids, and moved to Alabama. McDonough became a giant nerd, developed severe arthritis, and started making out with boys. He writes about that stuff – the South, families, queerness, disability, and nerdery. He graduated from the University of Alabama in 2013 and moved to Los Angeles to attend the University of Southern California, where he received his Master of Fine Arts degree in Writing for Screen and Television. After two years at Elizabeth Banks’s Brownstone Productions, he began working on television writers’ room support staff roles for AMC and FX.

Most recently, he was the showrunner’s assistant on “Y: THE LAST MAN” where he was an active part of the room discussion and story-breaking process, as well as a go-to source for problem-solving ideas. He’s done writing work for video games and nonfiction podcasts. He also hosts a podcast of his own, “TEACH ME SENTAI,” covering the adaptation of the Japanese franchise “Super Sentai” into the hit American franchise Power Rangers. He’s incredibly pedantic, but it’s mostly charming.

Learn More

After an extensive search and interview process, 20 individuals were invited to participate in the Los Angeles Cohort of RespectAbility’s 2022 Entertainment Lab taking place June 7 – July 14, 2022. This 6-week, 18-session Lab aims to further develop and elevate the talent pipeline of diverse professionals with disabilities working behind-the-scenes in television, film, and streaming. Participants include people with physical, cognitive, sensory, mental health, and other disabilities ranging in age from people in their 20’s through their 50’s. The Lab is a recipient of The Roddenberry Foundation Impact Award.

The Los Angeles Cohort of the 2022 Entertainment Lab is made possible with support by:

  • Platinum Sponsors: Murray/Reese Foundation and Netflix
  • Gold Sponsors: The Harnisch Foundation, Sony Pictures Entertainment, and The Walt Disney Company
  • Silver Sponsors: Hollywood Foreign Press Association Charitable Trust, the National Endowment for the Arts, and NBCUniversal
  • Location Sponsors: Bunim-Murray Productions, DreamWorks Animation, Endeavor, Lionsgate, Nielsen, and ROSIES Foundation
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