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Hollywood Inclusion

Now Streaming: “Born For Business” Shines the Spotlight on Disabled Entrepreneurs

Starts streaming for free today on Peacock and CRAVE

images of 4 disabled entrepreneurs and logo for Born For BusinessLos Angeles, August 23 – A powerful docuseries that spotlights the untold stories of four entrepreneurs with disabilities, Born For Business gives viewers an insider’s look at what it takes to launch and run a thriving small business. Just as each entrepreneur is on the brink of success, they must navigate the complications that the COVID-19 pandemic presents.

The series features four talented entrepreneurs with disabilities:

  • Qiana Allen is a fashionista with lupus who creates clothing for women with curves.
  • Collette Divitto is a baker with Down syndrome who owns a cookie brand on a mission to create change.
  • Chris Triebes is a driven single dad with spinal muscular atrophy (type III) making waves in the music industry.
  • Lexi Zanghi is a millennial entrepreneur with anxiety who runs a fashion-forward brand.

“For too long, people with disabilities have been shut out of the workplace,” said Jonathan Murray, Bunim/Murray Productions. “With Born For Business, we are showing how people with disabilities have long been using entrepreneurship to create an economic livelihood for themselves.”

Watch On Peacock

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“New Amsterdam” Adds Sandra Mae Frank, Deaf Actress, as a Doctor

Sandra Mae Frank smiling headshot

Photo credit: Arthur Marroquin

New York, August 19 – Deaf actress Sandra Mae Frank has joined NBC’s “New Amsterdam” as Dr. Elizabeth Wilder.

It is important to note that Frank is being added as a doctor, as many medical shows feature disabled actors as patients, but not as people who are helping others. Actors Rachel Handler, who is an amputee, and Matthew Jeffers, who is a little person, previously have been cast in roles as medical professionals. New Amsterdam overwhelmingly has been an example of best practices since Season 1, through casting authentically, including Lauren Ridloff and Eileen Grubba; working with consultants to ensure accurate storylines; and including conversations about diverse topics within the disability community.

Frank is a trained stage and film actor. Ever since she made her mark in Deaf West’s “Spring Awakening” on Broadway, she has been doing various projects from music videos, theater productions, films, and TV. She is also the production manager of Deaf Austin Theatre, a nonprofit theater company in Austin, Texas. Most recently Frank was featured on NBC’s Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist, performing a song in ASL. [continue reading…]

Bunim/Murray Productions: Casting with the Inventors of Reality TV

Los Angeles, Aug 19 – During a recent session of the RespectAbility Summer Lab for Entertainment Professionals, the cohort was joined by the folks at Bunim/Murray Productions to get the inside scoop on how to tell an authentic story through the unscripted genre.

Since the release of the popular reality TV series The Real World in 1992, followed by the equally popular series The Challenge in 1998, Bunim/Murray has paved the way for the rise of unscripted content fromKeeping Up with the Kardashians to The Simple Life with Paris Hilton. Founder Jonathan Murray was joined by Megan Sleeper, Senior VP of Casting; Myeia Coy, VP of Development; Jacob Lane, VP of Post Creative; and Alexandria Seidel, Director of People and Culture, to enlighten the class on what it takes to let the story organically unfold without a script. [continue reading…]

Lexi Zanghi: “Normalizing anxiety and talking about it is so important now more than ever.”

Lexi picking up a dress in a scene from Born For Business. Show logo in bottom left.Los Angeles, August 19 – Lexi Zanghi is one of four business owners with a disability who will be featured on the upcoming unscripted show, Born For Business on Peacock (USA) and CRAVE (Canada). Lexi grew up in a family of entrepreneurs and always knew she wanted to be her own boss. During an interview with the disability nonprofit RespectAbility, she told the story of her journey to create “Always Reason,” a young women’s clothing store, which has been filled with endless challenges.

Growing up in Long Island, NY, Lexi was a sensitive kid who would easily get jealous if she felt rejected by her friends. Despite that sensitivity, she was a loud, outgoing child who would put herself out there and enjoy the attention of her peers. Her outgoing attitude started to fade when Lexi entered middle school when she encountered the “mean girls” at her school. As she began high school, it faded even more.

“That’s when I made the decision to do better and be better as just a person, because I didn’t want to feel the way people had made me feel,” she said.

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Born For Business: Chris Triebes Discusses Entrepreneurship, Disability, and Metal Music with RespectAbility Ahead of New Docuseries Launch

Chris working tech at a concert venue in a scene from Born For Business. Show logo in bottom left.Los Angeles, August 18 – Chris Triebes is an entrepreneur based in the Chicago area specializing in booking and event planning for music acts. Chris was diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy and is one of the subjects of Peacock and CRAVE’s upcoming unscripted show Born For Business. The show will highlight individuals with disabilities who own and operate their own businesses, showcasing their success accompanied by some of the challenges involved with entrepreneurship.

Chris says his main motivation for becoming an entrepreneur was his ambition along with the need to provide for his daughter as a single father. “Necessity is the mother of invention,” proclaimed Chris as he describes his hustle in an interview with the disability nonprofit RespectAbility. His hustle is apparent when he describes how he initially got into the business of booking musical acts. [continue reading…]

A Peek into the Post-Production Process for Summer Entertainment Lab Participants

Los Angeles, August 18 – On July 29, participants of RespectAbility’s 2021 Summer Lab for Entertainment Professionals with Disabilities were welcomed to a full day of sessions hosted by Bunim-Murray Productions. A special supporter of the Lab program and whose founder, Jonathan Murray, sits on the board at RespectAbility, Bunim-Murray Productions was able to offer a unique look into the world of unscripted TV and a peek inside the post-production process.

Jacob Lane headshot in a studioJacob Lane, Vice President of Post Creative at Bunim-Murray Productions, spoke to participants about post-production story construction, editing for unscripted and documentary content, and the numerous pivotal jobs that bring that process of storytelling to life. Lane, who started his career in television news and documentaries before moving into unscripted television, has been editing for more than 20 years. His credits include long-running and industry changing shows like The Amazing Race, The Real World, Born This Way, Deaf Out Loud, Keeping Up with the Kardashians, and The Challenge. [continue reading…]

Unpacking the Unscripted Content Development Process with Myiea Coy, VP of Development at Bunim/Murray Productions

Myiea Coy smiling headshotLos Angeles, August 18 – The development process of any show, especially unscripted, is vitally important. Myiea Coy, VP of Development at Bunim/Murray Productions, gave the behind-the-scenes tour of the development process to the 30 participants of the RespectAbility Lab for Entertainment Professionals with Disabilities. She emphasized the importance of finding the story in your unscripted content, and the overall development process.

Coy cited the hugely popular unscripted dating show Love is Blind as an example to demonstrate how in the developmental stages of a show, even something as simple as the title of the show is important in sparking an audience’s interest. As Coy explained, the goal is to get the viewer to visualize what a specific show could be about just by having a great title and concept.

Throughout the presentation, Coy shared additional examples of real pitch decks from shows in various stages of production and pre-production that Bunim/Murray has worked on. [continue reading…]

Born For Business: Qiana Allen Shares Her Journey as an Entrepreneur with Lupus in New Docuseries Launching Soon on Peacock and CRAVE

Qiana Allen working inside Cultures Closet. Born For Business logo in bottom left.Los Angeles, August 17 – Qiana Allen is a Chicago entrepreneur who owns Cultures Closet, a fashion and life-style brand for plus-size women and is featured on Peacock and CRAVE’s new unscripted show Born For Business. For Qiana, who lives with Lupus, having her own business gives her the flexibility she needs to manage her illness. Born For Business will highlight individuals with disabilities who own and operate their own businesses, showcasing their success, accompanied by some of the challenges involved with entrepreneurship.

Despite the challenges that come with entrepreneurship, being an entrepreneur always has been worth it in Qiana’s eyes. From a young age, she saw her uncle’s freedom as an entrepreneur and knew that is what she wanted to do with her life. “All I know is he would call himself an entrepreneur,” she said in an interview with the disability nonprofit RespectAbility. “I didn’t know exactly what it was, but I saw him being self-sufficient, flexible in his hours, and enjoying what he did. And I wanted to do that as a child and I’ve never wanted to do anything else.” [continue reading…]

Born For Business: Collette Divitto Showcases Importance of Supporting and Hiring Disabled Employees in New Docuseries About Entrepreneurs with Disabilities

Collette Divitto in her bakery wearing a mask and apron in a scene from Born For Business. Show logo in bottom leftLos Angeles, August 16 – Hailing from Boston, Collette Divitto owns a successful business called Collettey’s Cookies. She was born with Down syndrome, and, like for all business owners, it took a lot of hard work and determination to make her business what it is today. Collette and her company are featured on Peacock and CRAVE’s upcoming unscripted show Born For Business.

Collette has loved baking since the age of four but became incredibly passionate about it during freshman year of high school while taking a baking class. After attending Clemson University, she moved to Boston and said one of the hardest parts was finding a job.

“I spent hours trying to find jobs,” said Collette. “I got emails saying I wasn’t a good fit.” [continue reading…]

Top Entertainment Professionals Speak to Participants During Lab’s First Session Focused on Physical Production

Los Angeles, CA, August 13 – Physical Production, often overlooked as a less glamourous part of filmmaking, is a cornerstone of creating in film and TV. Based on feedback by alumni of prior cohorts, a new one-of-a-kind session was held as a part of RespectAbility’s third annual Lab for Entertainment Professionals with Disabilities this summer. Barriers abound for disabled creatives craving a career in production, so opportunities to speak about how to form and break into production crews is a special treat.

Lisa Peters smiling headshot

Lisa Peters

Participants first welcomed Lisa Peters, a Physical Production Executive for Documentary Features, Shorts, and Limited Series at Netflix. Peters previously has managed projects for BET, TLC, Discovery, BBC, and Oxygen and is on the advisory board of Hue You Know, a community for BIPOC people in media. Starting her journey to television through news at World News Tonight with Peter Jennings as a desk assistant, Peters spoke about her evolution in the world of production after realizing, “news isn’t really it for me in terms of no one looked like me that was telling the stories. No one cared to hear about the stories that I wanted to tell.” [continue reading…]

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