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Hollywood Inclusion

A Quiet Place Part II Proves to Be a Loud Win for the Disability Community

NOTE: Minor Spoilers for both A Quiet Place films ahead

Noah Jupe, Millicent Simmonds, and Emily Blunt walking in the woods in A Quiet Place Part II.

Noah Jupe, Millicent Simmonds, and Emily Blunt in A Quiet Place Part II

Los Angeles, June 3 – The horror genre is rarely a prime example of proper disability representation in Hollywood. However, Memorial Day weekend 2021 provided us with the release of the much-anticipated film, A Quiet Place Part II. After being delayed for more than a year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the sequel to the critically-acclaimed and financially successful 2018 horror-flick, A Quiet Place, was finally released. The horror series is about a world in which aliens with uncanny hearing attack Earth. The survivors must learn to live silently to survive. The stars of both films include real-life couple John Krasinski and Emily Blunt as well as Millicent Simmonds and Noah Jupe. Millicent Simmonds plays Regan, oldest daughter of the family who is also Deaf. At the end of the first film, Regan discovers that the amplifying feedback from her hearing aid tortures the aliens and makes them more vulnerable.

Simmonds is Deaf herself and takes on a much bigger role in A Quiet Place Part II, as her character Regan steps up to utilize the signal from her hearing aid effectively in the fight against the aliens. Her character grows up significantly as she is forced to be braver and stronger after tragedy befell the family at the end of the first film. She also teaches a bit of sign language and another character how to enunciate so she is able to read their lips. The film triumphs not only in its accurate and authentic representation but in its portrayal as well. The audience cheers her and her hearing aid weapon on as she trudges through the dangers of the alien infested Earth. [continue reading…]

Tyler Hoog: When Something is Lost, Something is Gained

Tyler Hoog headshotLos Angeles, California, June 3 – Tyler Hoog is a 26-year-old screenwriter based in Los Angeles, California. Originally from Longmont, Colorado, Hoog became a C4-C3 quadriplegic when he was 17-years-old after a car accident caused a spinal cord injury. Hoog talks about his early adjustments to life in a wheelchair and praises his supportive family: “Honestly it was never a focus on if I would ever walk again. My mom did a very good job of really shifting the perspective where beforehand we were going to baseball practice, now we’re going to physical therapy.”

“My mom made it so there wasn’t a moment where we sat and felt devastated,” he continues. It was just ‘this is the situation, so we’re going to make some lemonade.’” [continue reading…]

Danny J. Gomez: Speaking Out For A More Inclusive Entertainment Industry

Danny Gomez smiling headshot wearing a black shirt in front of a black backdropLos Angeles, California, June 3 – Danny J. Gomez is an actor, model and advocate for authentic casting in Hollywood. Born and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana, Gomez was far away from the storied Hollywood sign and its accompanying industry opportunities. However, distance did not stop Gomez from pursuing his dreams.

Inspired by his favorite show at the time, Entourage, Gomez packed up his dreams and clothes and left the crawdad capitol, headed westward toward the Golden State. Gomez promised himself to make acting his top priority, but over time, he let the distractions of the industry detour his trajectory. It wasn’t until he acquired his disability, paralysis from a spinal cord injury, that he reevaluated his life and returned to fulfill his old promise.

Since then, Gomez has stayed true to his word and attached several acting credits to his name—most notably his appearance on NBC’s New Amsterdam where he played a paralyzed pilot. He has also participated in the Easterseals film challenges multiple times and continues to book acting roles. [continue reading…]

Billy Porter: Award-Winning Actor Shatters Stigmas Around HIV

Billy Porter wearing a blue suit jacket.

Credit: Santiago Felipe/Getty Images

Washington, D.C., June 2 – Billy Porter has had a long history of breaking boundaries. He came out at 16 years old in the middle of the AIDS crisis. His Tony-winning stint as Lola in Kinky Boots confronted stigmas around femininity. And his role as Pray Tell on Pose made him the first openly gay Black man to win any lead acting category at the Primetime Emmy Awards. But Porter is not finished breaking boundaries quite yet.

On May 19, 2021, Billy Porter gave an interview to The Hollywood Reporter and revealed that he is HIV-positive and has Type 2 Diabetes. Both of these diagnoses came in 2007, but Porter kept his HIV status secret from almost everyone due to the stigma that comes with such a diagnosis.

[continue reading…]

Meet Sophie Jaewon Kim: The 14-Year-Old Korean-American Actress Who is Paving the Way for Better On-Screen Representation of the Disabled AANHPI Community

three pre-teens, one girl in a wheelchair, and two boys standing, one holding a dog

Amara (Sophie Kim), Noah (Jace Chapman) and Simon (Mauricio Lara)

Los Angeles, CA, June 1 – Sophie Jaewon Kim is a 14-year-old actress who can be seen on Netflix’s The Healing Powers of Dude. Kim represents a new generation of disabled actors who are indelibly transforming the entertainment industry. Kim is doing more than just wowing audiences with her acting breakthrough—she is leading the way for both Asian American and disabled performers everywhere.

Recently, Kim participated in a RespectAbility virtual event celebrating the representation and inclusion of disabled AANHPI (Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders) in media. In this panel, Kim answered questions regarding the state and future of diversity in the entertainment industry. Kim discussed the messages of support she’s received from fans, both disabled and nondisabled. [continue reading…]

30 Talented Entertainment Professionals with Disabilities Accepted into RespectAbility’s Third Annual Summer Lab

Sponsors include A+E Networks, Final Draft, The Harnisch Foundation, NBCUniversal, Murray/Reese Foundation, Pop Culture Collaborative, Sony Pictures Entertainment, ViacomCBS and The Walt Disney Company

Los Angeles, California – RespectAbility, a nonprofit focused on fighting stigmas of people with disabilities in media and advocating for more authentic representation, is proud to announce that following unprecedented competition from around the world, 30 individuals have been accepted into RespectAbility’s third annual Lab for Entertainment Professionals with Disabilities. The Lab brings authentic and diverse portrayals of people with disabilities to the screen by creating a pipeline of diverse professionals with disabilities behind the camera. [continue reading…]

The Bachelor’s Abigail Heringer Calls for Intersectional Disability Visibility

Abigail Heringer smiling headshotLos Angeles, CA, May 27 – Making history as the first Deaf or hard of hearing contestant on ABC’s iconic dating series, The Bachelor, Abigail Heringer has pioneered a new direction of diverse production in authentic and intersectional entertainment. The representative progress that has been made for AAPI television personalities and people with disabilities on-screen is largely separate and extraneous. However, Heringer celebrates her multidimensional identity by educating others and welcoming a new age of inclusive conversation.

In RespectAbility’s recent event titled, “Celebrating Representation and Inclusion of Disabled AAPI in Media,” a virtual panel hosted by diversity advocate and entertainment thought leader, Vanni Le, Heringer offered her nuanced narrative. [continue reading…]

MTV’s Each and Every Day Amplifies Narratives of People with Lived Experiences of Mental Health Challenges

Each and Every day poster with photos of the teens featured in the documentary.Los Angeles, CA, May 27 – Depression is a silent epidemic in America: according to the community-based nonprofit, Mental Health America, 13% of youth battle depressive episodes. MTV’s new investigative documentary on mental illness, Each and Every Day, offers powerful visibility to the survivors behind these statistics. Though nonvisible disabilities often can be overlooked in media, MTV is using their production platform to authentically shed light on the many ways depression affects the youth of America across every demographic. Each and Every Day is a must-watch to have a better understanding of the disparities that exist when people attempt to get help in managing their mental health conditions.

[continue reading…]

Triple Threat Shaina Ghuraya Creates Space for Spectacular Intersectional Stories to Grow

Shaina Ghuraya smiling headshotLos Angeles, May 20 – Everyone has different motivators in life. Some people are motivated by passion, some money, others necessity. For Shaina Ghuraya, her motivation is her white-hot rage. It’s that same rage that unintentionally drove Shaina to become a filmmaker. As a Punjabi woman in a wheelchair, Shaina describes herself as a triple threat, and it’s within that intersectionality that Shaina found her voice as a filmmaker.

Shaina’s foray into directing started with a spite piece she made while in undergrad at The University of Sacramento. Fed up with how inaccessible the university was, Shaina made a documentary exposing the university for its lack of accessibility. In making that film, Shaina saw the importance of her voice and her perspective. [continue reading…]

More than 1,300+ organizations, brands, government agencies and cultural leaders join together for first-ever Mental Health Action Day

Largest cross-sector effort to shift from mental health awareness to mental health action organized in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic, ongoing trauma of systemic racism

Learn more at www.MentalHealthActionDay.org

Mental Health Action Day logoLos Angeles, May 20 – Today the disability advancement nonprofit RespectAbility and more than 1,300 organizations, brands, government agencies and cultural leaders will participate in the inaugural Mental Health Action Day to drive the conversation from mental health awareness to mental health action. Convened by MTV Entertainment Group, Mental Health Action Day is an open-source movement, aimed at motivating people to take action to get mental health support — whether for themselves, their loved ones or for everyone by advocating for systemic changes for mental health access and equity. [continue reading…]

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