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Hollywood Inclusion

First of Its Kind Hollywood Disability Inclusion Toolkit Offers Entertainment Professionals Facts & Sources 

CONTACT: Lauren Appelbaum,, 202-591-0703

Download the PDF or accessible Word document or view online. Also, view our PPT to learn more.

Reality TV Pioneer Jonathan Murray, former Presidential appointee and inclusion expert Steven James Tingus, film executive Delbert Whetter, RespectAbility President Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, Hollywood, Health & Society Director Kate Folb, Top Model/Actor Nyle DiMarco and California Endowment’s Jose Plaza led the March 20 breakfast discussion about the path to inclusion of people with disabilities

A group of people seated in chairs and wheelchairs and standing smiling and posing for the camera

Back Row: Delbert Whetter, Richard Ray, Nyle DiMarco, Jonathan Murray, Cindy Chu, Hasan Foster, Kate Folb, Jose Plaza; Front Row: Steven James Tingus, Lauren Appelbaum, Tatiana Lee, Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, Debbie Fink

Los Angeles, Calif., March 20 – As entertainment professionals across all platforms work to become more inclusive of minorities, RespectAbility, a nonprofit organization that fights stigma and advances opportunities for people with disabilities, announces the launch of “The Hollywood Disability Toolkit: The RespectAbility Guide to Inclusion in the Entertainment Industry.” The toolkit, which is available online for free, offers Hollywood professionals the facts and sources they need to get disability inclusion right.

The Hollywood Disability Toolkit: The RespectAbility Guide to Inclusion in the Entertainment IndustryA first of its kind primer for entertainment professionals, it covers a wide array of key issues all in one easy to read place. A Disability FAQ covers topics from the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the definition of a disability to concrete steps to ensure inclusivity and sample inclusion language. The FAQ also covers resources for hiring employees with disabilities and tax and other incentives that employers have to hire people with disabilities.

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Actor/Model and Deaf Activist Nyle DiMarco Joins in Launch of Historic “Hollywood Toolkit” to Help Industry Achieve Goals of Equitable Hiring & Authentic Representation of Disabilities



John Stodder, Tower26, (213) 393-42190


Actor/Model and Deaf Activist Nyle DiMarco Joins in Launch of Historic “Hollywood Disability Inclusion Toolkit” to Help Industry Achieve Goals of Equitable Hiring & Authentic Representation of Disabilities
Nyle DiMarco sitting in a car

Nyle DiMarco

Reality TV Pioneer Jonathan Murray, RespectAbility President Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, Hollywood, Health & Society Director Kate Folb and California Endowment’s Jose Plaza to lead March 20 breakfast discussion about the path to inclusion of people with disabilities.

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For First Time, Frances McDormand Calls for Full Inclusion at the Academy Awards

  • Best Actress in a Leading Role makes call for more inclusion.
  • Authentic representation of disability wins Best Live Action Short.
  • Best Picture Winner goes to film with actor playing a disability she doesn’t have.
  • Diversity and inclusion segment omits people with disabilities.
Frances McDormand holding an Oscar giving a speech on stage

Frances McDormand

Los Angeles, Calif., March 5 – In a historic call for more information, Academy Award winner Frances McDormand called for an inclusion rider in contracts – a provision that ensures diversity and inclusion in not only the cast of a Hollywood project, but also the crew. The result can lead to a Hollywood A-lister ensuring gender, racial, LGBTQ and disability equality via his or her contracts.

“For those of you asking about the #InclusionRider, it’s designed to ensure equitable hiring in supportive roles for women, POC [people of color], the LGBT community, & people w/disabilities,” the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative tweeted. Stacy Smith, its Founder and Director, previously talked about this concept during a 2016 TED Talk.

An inclusion rider “has always been available to all – everybody who does a negotiation on a film – which means you can ask for or demand at least 50 percent diversity in not only the casting but the crew.” McDormand, who won the Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Role, told The Hollywood Reporter backstage after the Oscars. “The fact that I just learned that after 35 years in the film business – we aren’t going back.”

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Diversity and Inclusion in Hollywood Breakfast

Date: Tuesday, March 20, 2018
Time: 8:30 A.M. Breakfast was provided.
Location: Glendale, CA
Contact: Lauren Appelbaum, or 202-591-0703

headshot of Jonathan Murray wearing a gray striped shirt and facing the camera color photo

Jonathan Murray

Jonathan Murray of Bunim/Murray hosted this breakfast conversation. Murray has created and executive produced some of the industry’s most diverse, innovative, unscripted, entertainment television programs including Emmy-winning Born This Way (A&E), which documents the lives of diverse young adults with Down Syndrome and their families. Murray serves on the Board of Directors for RespectAbility.

RespectAbility’s focus is on the inclusion of diverse people with disabilities within the entertainment industry. As such, we unveiled a new resource guide for disability inclusion. This toolkit is for entertainment professionals wishing to ensure they are as inclusive of people with disabilities as possible. Email with questions or visit to view the toolkit.

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From Washington to Hollywood and Beyond: The Future of Americans with Disabilities

From Washington to Hollywood and BeyondDate: July 30, 2018, 8:00 AM – 5:30 PM
Location: Rayburn Building, Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C.
There is no charge to attend this event.

If you will not be joining us in person, we invite you to participate virtually! Beginning at 9:00 a.m. ET through 4:30 p.m. ET, we will be airing the summit on Facebook Live at You do not have to have a Facebook account to watch. An ASL interpreter will be visible in the video the entire time.

We also will be live tweeting @Respect_Ability using #RespectAbility18. You can ask questions of the panelists through both the Facebook Live feed and by tweeting them to @Respect_Ability.

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Deborah Calla Serves as Role Model for Inclusion During  Jewish Disabilities Awareness and Inclusion Month

Deborah Calla smiling for the camera

Deborah Calla

Rockville, Md., Feb. 16 – Deborah Calla is a Brazilian-born producer, writer and director. Calla is best known in the disability community for reviving the Media Access Awards (MAA). Her involvement in the disabilities movement and social justice stem from two sources: her professional experiences in Hollywood and her Judaism.

Calla came to film and TV by chance. A friend of a friend thought that because she directed and produced plays, she would be a good film producer, so he asked her to produce his first film.

“It was a very trying experience as I didn’t really know what I was doing and producing film can be an overwhelming effort especially if you have no experience,” Calla said. “In the end, I survived and loved it.”

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“Spectrum: A Story of the Mind” – ReelAbilities Film Fest Preview

Tuesday, February 27, 2018
7:00 PM – 9:00 PM
Congregation Har Shalom: 11510 Falls Rd, Potomac, MD 20854

RespectAbility, in partnership with Congregation Har Shalom, is proud to present the acclaimed film “Spectrum: A Story of the Mind” on Tuesday, February 27 at 7:00 p.m. in a sneak-peek preview event for the 2018 ReelAbilities Film Festival of Northern Virginia, which is organized by the Jewish Community Center of Northern VA.

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Grey’s Anatomy: “I have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder… but it is not my story.”

Chandra Wilson in costume as Grey's Anatomy's Dr. Miranda Bailey

Chandra Wilson as Dr. Miranda Bailey

Grey’s Anatomy has never been a show to shy away from social commentary. In the era of #MeToo and the focus on gender inequality, Dr. Miranda Bailey (played by Chandra Wilson) fights for herself when she is having a heart attack – and shatters stigma against Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).

OCD is a common, chronic and long-lasting disorder in which a person has uncontrollable, reoccurring thoughts (obsessions) and behaviors (compulsions) that he or she feels the urge to repeat over and over.

Bailey, a Chief-of-Surgery, is at another area hospital with symptoms of a heart attack. The doctor treating her, Dr. Maxwell, does not believe she is and instead asks about emotional and mental stressors in her life. While there are many, Bailey is adamant she truly is having a heart attack – and is correct. But Dr. Maxwell continues to refuse the cardiac stress test that she requests.

The interactions between Bailey and Maxwell illustrate how women and men often are treated differently by medical professionals. Bailey is not only belittled as a woman but also when she discloses she has a disability. She shares that she is taking statins and anti-depressants to manage her OCD.

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Deafblind Lawyer Haben Girma Advocates for Disability Rights

headshot of Haben Girma wearing a blue dress and pearls

Haben Girma

Haben Girma has been advocating for herself since she attended elementary school in Oakland. She became the first Deafblind person to graduate from law school when she earned her degree from Harvard Law School in 2013. She is a civil rights attorney who advocates for disability rights, a public speaker who travels the country changing people’s perceptions of the disability community in the media and has been featured in Forbes “30 Under 30” and on NBC and NPR.

In 1983, five years before Girma was born, her mother Saba Gebreyesus fled Eritrea, a city in Africa with approximately six million people, taking two weeks to walk to Sudan and sleeping in trees “surrounded by hungry hyenas.” But she was determined to give Girma the opportunities her son wasn’t given; he also was born deafblind.

After her mom settled in California, Girma was born in Oakland in 1988. In elementary school, she learned Braille and later used a Bluetooth keyboard hooked up to a Braille reader to communicate with others. At school, she gained access to the materials she needed to be able to learn. She credits her supportive teachers and classmates, accessible materials such as interpreters and other accommodations, and developed study skills and homework strategies for her success.

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Actress with Cerebral Palsy Diana Elizabeth Jordan is Veteran of 40 Shows, Shorts and Movies

Diana Elizabeth Jordan smiling in front of a tree

Diana Elizabeth Jordan

Diana Elizabeth Jordan, an award winning actress, writer, producer and director, is an important figure in the conversation about the inclusivity or lack thereof of people with disabilities in Hollywood. She found a way to get into and around Hollywood, with the help of her faith and self-confidence.

“There have been plenty of times in my life where I haven’t felt positive but I try my best to let the positive outweigh the negative and I think my faith in God has a lot to do with that,” said Jordan.

Jordan has cerebral palsy, which mildly affects her speech and gait. She has been acting professionally since she graduated from college. She began her career working in Chicago Theater. She also was the first actor with a disability to obtain Masters of Fine Arts in Acting from California State University Long Beach in 2001.

Since beginning her career, Diana has built an impressive list of over 40 credits in theater, film and television including her first T.V. guest star role on The WB’s 7th Heaven in 2004. The majority of roles she has been cast in have not been disability specific. It has always been important to her to be cast in roles where her disability is incidental to the character or storyline.

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