Washington, D.C., June 1 – Rep. Brad Sherman, the 10-term Congressman, is known as a serious legislator. So what is he doing in a reality show made by the same company that created Keeping up with the Kardashians, Rob & Chyna and Total Divas?
The reason is simple: he cohosted a major event in his district with Emmy-winning reality-TV innovator Jonathan Murray (executive producer of the shows listed above, in addition to Real World, Born This Way, Autism the Musical and others) and former President George W. Bush appointee on disability issues, Steve Tingus.
The event, entitled “Ending Stigmas & Bigotry: Expanding Employment for People with Disabilities,” was presented by Sherman working in partnership with RespectAbility, a nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities for people with disabilities. Both Murray and Tingus are on the board of RespectAbility, whose president, Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, and communications director, Lauren Appelbaum, also are featured in the episode.
Participants in the event included stars from the cast of Emmy-winning reality show Born This Way, which features seven diverse young adults with Down syndrome, as well as other individuals with Autism, multiple sclerosis, spina bifida, physical disabilities, amputations and non-visible disabilities. Local experts, including Cathy Gott, Elaine Hall, Sandra McElwee, Joclynn Benjamin and others also participated. Together, participants brainstormed new ideas to move the needle forward on the employment of people with disabilities in a shared agenda. The congressman facilitated these discussions.