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Bio – Lab 2022 Virtual

Alys Murray

RespectAbility Entertainment Professionals Lab, Summer 2022

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Alys Murray

Alys Murray is a crowd-pleasing genre writer. Born and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana, she obtained her undergraduate degree in Playwriting from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. During her time at NYU, she also studied at the university’s prestigious playwriting course in cooperation with The Jermyn Street Theatre, RADA, and the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain. Subsequently, she earned her Master’s of Fine Arts in Film Studies from King’s College London. [continue reading…]

Angel Williams

RespectAbility Entertainment Professionals Lab, Summer 2022

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Angel Williams

Angel Williams is a writer and producer who hails from Washington, D.C but currently lives in Denver, CO.  Although Angel used writing as a coping mechanism since childhood, it wasn’t until she was given the opportunity to attend a Writers Guild Initiative, a program that was started by the WGA in partnership with the Wounded Warrior Project, that she was encouraged to consider doing more with her writing. A few of the mentors guided her on how to take her stories and turn them into screenplays. Thus, Williams, a disabled US Army veteran and mother of three (two of her children are diagnosed with ASD) turned her passion into a career. Even after having a stroke, she has not given up on the opportunities to be creative. Angel has goals of not only telling the stories of those who live with non-visible disabilities but to be successful in writing multiple genres. She is currently in pre-production of a sci-fi series, Stone Fate, and developing a based on a true story basketball limited series. [continue reading…]

Cameron S. Mitchell

RespectAbility Entertainment Professionals Lab, Summer 2022

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Cameron S. Mitchell

Cameron S. Mitchell (Owner, CSM Productions) is an award-winning filmmaker with almost two decades of experience as a director and cinematographer. Cameron’s work has been featured in major publications including Deadline, Variety, XXL, Rolling Stone, and more. He has created Emmy-winning work for Netflix, as well as Amazon, Marvel, Hulu, and every major cable television network. Cameron makes an active effort to contribute new content to the film industry that represents disability viewpoints, including his narrative short The Co-Op (Premiered at Slamdance 2021, Presented by Hulu, Winner: Bergen International Film Festival), his doc short for PBS American Masters: Elsa (which he is currently looking to expand into a feature), and his feature-length documentary Disposable Humanity on the Nazi Aktion T4 program which targeted people with disabilities (In Post-Production and looking for finishing funds).  You can see more of Cameron’s work at www.cameronsmitchell.com. [continue reading…]

Ariel Baska

RespectAbility Entertainment Professionals Lab, Summer 2022

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Ariel Baska

Ariel Baska is an award-winning, openly disabled horror and documentary filmmaker. As a former teacher, she is deeply interested in film’s potential to shape the future.  Her horror short about medical gaslighting, Our First Priority, which she wrote and directed, won the Disability Advocacy Award from Superfest Disability Film Festival, and was an Official Selection of Final Girls Berlin, Wench Film Festival, and the Oscar-qualifying deadCenter Film Festival, among many others. Her first animated short film, she’s never been a bird before, screened at the Engauge Experimental Film Festival. Additionally, she is a recipient of multiple scholarships from Sundance Collab and is producing several projects, both narrative and documentary. [continue reading…]

Charo Mato

RespectAbility Entertainment Professionals Lab, Summer 2022

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Charo Mato

Charo Mato is an Argentinian filmmaker with hearing loss who graduated from the Image and Sound Design career in the University of Buenos Aires.

She was a fellow of the Sundance Documentary Film Program with her first documentary film 8 Stories About My Hearing Loss, which premiered at 9° FIDBA and won Best Film at 9° Construir Cine. [continue reading…]

Heather Taylor

RespectAbility Entertainment Professionals Lab, Summer 2022

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Heather Taylor

Heather Taylor is a writer/ director of TV and films about complicated family relationships — often told through a supernatural/ horror/ sci-fi lens. She is a dual Canadian and UK citizen, US Green Card holder, and splits her time between LA and Toronto. As a writer, Heather was a story editor on season two of THE HARDY BOYS on Hulu and co-wrote two episodes. Her second feature film, LETHAL LOVE, produced by Neshama Entertainment and MarVista Entertainment, is streaming on Netflix.

Her narrative podcast, ANOMALY, was an official selection of the 2021 Tribeca Festival, and she is the co-host of BRAAAINS, a podcast exploring the inner workings of our brains and how film and television portray them. She hopes the conversations on BRAAAINS help people in the entertainment industry (and beyond) look at mental health and disability representation in a new – and more informed – light.

Heather started her writing career as a playwright and poet and is the author of three poetry collections. She taught writing to refugees, prisoners, pensioners, and students of all ages, and graduated with a Masters in Scriptwriting from City University, London. Heather was a 2022 RespectAbility Lab TV Writing Fellow, and an alum of the Royal Court Young Writers’ Program and the Bell Media Prime Time TV program (in association with ABC Signature Studios). She is a proud member of the WGC Feature Film Committee.

Before becoming a full-time filmmaker, Heather used her writing and directing talents for work in journalism, PR, and advertising. As an advertising exec, she led multimillion-dollar campaigns across different industry sectors and fine-tuned her reputation as an idea machine and the Indiana Jones of research. Working in journalism, she honed her curiosity about the world and her interest in people with different perspectives. She has conducted hundreds of interviews and now applies that approach to her own projects and writers’ rooms. In aid of her work, Heather spoke to a wide range of individuals from air force captains serving in Iraq to independent music venue owners, survivors of hurricane-ravaged communities to residents of ghost towns who have nowhere else to go.

Born with a non-visible disability, Heather strives to destigmatize mental illness, disabilities, and poverty in her work. She is currently working with producers on projects that feature characters with mental health and neurodevelopmental disabilities. Heather hopes these projects will open the door for more voices and stories that need to be told. There is room for all of us. See more at: HeatherATaylor.com.

Learn More

After an extensive search and interview process, 18 individuals and one writing duo were invited to participate in the Virtual Cohort of RespectAbility’s 2022 Entertainment Lab taking place August 16 – September 22, 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 Virtual 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

Graham Kent

RespectAbility Entertainment Professionals Lab, Summer 2022

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Graham Kent

Graham Kent is a writer, creator, and (checks vitals) human being from Toronto. Having branched from acting into writing, his on-screen work includes television, webseries, commercials, shorts, and feature films. As a writer, his credits include development on scripted projects, and VOD content for Bell Media. An alumnus of Humber College’s school of Comedy Writing and Performance, Graham sometimes makes with the ha-ha, focusing mainly on comedies and dramas. [continue reading…]

Isabella Vargas

RespectAbility Entertainment Professionals Lab, Summer 2022

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Isabella Vargas

Isabella Vargas is a filmmaker, writer, and media artist who focuses on celebrating underrepresented stories. Raised mostly in South Florida, in between a multitude of cultures, her work attempts to find poetic ways to construct and deconstruct her community’s stories. [continue reading…]

Matt Opatrny

RespectAbility Entertainment Professionals Lab, Summer 2022

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Matt Opatrny

Matt Opatrny is an award-winning playwright, screenwriter, essayist, performer, and teacher of playwriting and devised theatre. He recently wrote eight episodes of DreamWorks Animation’s new pre-K series Not Quite Narwhal (soon to premiere on Netflix), and several episodes of Moonbug Entertainment’s CoComelon Story Time podcast series (out on Spotify). He is currently head writer of Daisy, an independent production of a new science based live-action pre-K series. [continue reading…]

Maureen McEly

RespectAbility Entertainment Professionals Lab, Summer 2022

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Maureen McEly

Maureen McEly spent more than a decade in unscripted television, working her way from PA to producer, before leaving that field in 2020 to pursue screenwriting. But within months of that decision, she became disabled by a neuromuscular autoimmune disease called myasthenia gravis. She spent a grueling year learning about her illness, adapting to her new physical limitations, and reimagining how to be a mother to her two toddlers. But after she stabilized, her illness didn’t stop her writing ambitions. [continue reading…]

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