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Hollywood Inclusion

Fighting Stigmas and Expanding Opportunities for People with Disabilities Through Hollywood

Get Involved!

At RespectAbility, a national nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and expanding opportunities for people with disabilities, we have been working with several partners within the entertainment industry on the full inclusion of people with disabilities – in front and behind the camera. On Feb. 8, we held a webinar with several partners as part of the process of creating a Community of Practice to work on the closely connected issues of disability, diversity, inclusion, poverty and media.

The webinar is being followed up with in-person meetings for interested parties based in Los Angeles and New York City. We are looking for partners to help move the needle on two core important issues: inclusion and diversity in Hollywood and employment of people with disabilities.

Our most recent events were held on on Feb. 21, 2017 in Los Angeles. Throughout the day, we hosted meetings of leaders in philanthropy, workforce development and entertainment industry who care about diversity, inclusion and employment in Hollywood for people with disabilities. There is a great potential to gather committed stakeholders to join together to form a Community of Practice to work on the closely connected issues of disability, diversity, inclusion, poverty and media. We hope this gathering will inaugurate a Community of Practice composed of key stakeholders to move the needle on two core important issues: inclusion and diversity in Hollywood and employment of people with disabilities.

Please contact our Communications Director at laurena@respectabilityusa.org for more information.

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Super Bowl Ads for Coca-Cola, Airbnb and Google Home Leave out People with Disabilities

Rockville, Md., Feb. 6 – While many commercials during last night’s Super Bowl focused on diversity and inclusion, the majority did not include people with disabilities.

Coca-Cola reran an ad from the 2014 Super Bowl. “It’s Beautiful” features people of different backgrounds singing “America, The Beautiful” in different languages.

Likewise, Airbnb’s “We Accept” also showcased people of a variety of backgrounds. The ad is set to music with text laid over close-ups of people’s faces that read: “We believe no matter who you are, where you’re from, who you love, or who you worship, we all belong. The world is more beautiful the more you accept.” The ad ended with the hashtag #WeAccept, which went viral by halftime.

Google’s “Google Home” commercial included multiple minority groups by showing homes with rainbow pride flags and mezuzahs and people from all races cooking, eating, dancing and enjoying life.

Yet all three of these ads, which promoted inclusion of diverse people, failed to include people with disabilities, which is the largest minority in America, with almost one-in-five Americans having a disability. The disability community often is forgotten in diversity conversations in Hollywood and elsewhere.

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WEBINAR: Hollywood, Media & Disability

Fighting Stigmas and Expanding Opportunities for People with Disabilities

Read the webinar transcript (COMING SOON)
Download the accessible PowerPoint
Watch the webinar on YouTube with live embedded captions

Featuring

Jenni Gold, editor, screenwriter, director and founder of Gold Pictures, Inc.
John Tucker, cast member of Emmy-award winning Born This Way and rap artist
Gail Williamson, talent agent and head of the Diversity Department at Kazarian/Measures/Ruskin & Associates

Moderated By Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, President of RespectAbility

We at RespectAbility, a national nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and expanding opportunities for people with disabilities, have been working with several partners within the entertainment industry on the full inclusion of people with disabilities – in front and behind the camera. The webinar was part of the process of creating a Community of Practice to work on the closely connected issues of disability, diversity, inclusion, poverty and media.

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Four Oscar Nominations for Best Picture Go to Films with Disability Connections

Academy Award Oscar Statuettes

Photo by Toby Canham/Getty Images

Rockville, Md, Jan. 24 – Of the nine films nominated for Best Picture, four have themes or sub-plots related to disability.

For example, Manchester by the Sea includes themes of mental health, alcoholism and drug use. Likewise, Moonlight includes story lines surrounding drug addiction. Arrival, a science-fiction film, includes a child who dies from cancer.

Fences, a film that has received multiple accolades for its racially diverse themes, also includes a disability storyline. Lead character Troy Maxson (Denzel Washington)’s older brother Gabe Maxson (Mykelti Williamson) sustained a traumatic brain injury (TBI) during World War II. Children in the neighborhood often torment Gabe. When Troy bails Gabe out of jail for disturbing the peace, Troy unknowingly signs a paper that routes half of Gabe’s pension to a psychiatric hospital, forcing Gabe to be institutionalized.

Williamson does not have a disability himself, which is quite common when it comes to casting actors portraying people with disabilities. The Ruderman White Paper on Disability in Television found that non-disabled actors on television play more than 95 percent of characters with disabilities.

When asked by the Los Angeles Times about playing the role of someone with a TBI, Williamson acknowledged the many variables and “different levels of injury and effect” of someone with a TBI.

In the full-length documentary category, Life, Animated, a film about Owen, a boy with Autism, was nominated. The film shows how Owen, a young man who was unable to speak as a child, and his father are able to connect using Disney animated films.

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Discussion: People with Disabilities and the Entertainment Industry

This event is now full. Please contact laurena@respectability.org to be informed of future events.

RespectAbility, a national nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and expanding opportunities for people with disabilities, has been working with several partners within the entertainment industry on the full inclusion of people with disabilities – in front and behind the camera.

We would like to invite you to an event specifically for showrunners, creative executives, writers, casting directors, talent agents, actors and others within the creative world of Hollywood at Rep. Brad Sherman’s office on Feb. 21, 2017.

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Disability Group Challenges Meryl Streep to Walk the Walk in Breaking Down Stigmas & Bullying

Meryl Streep standing behind a microphone smiling. She is wearing a black dress with many colorful, light-reflecting jewels.

Meryl Streep delivering her Golden Globes acceptance speech

Washington, Jan. 9 – RespectAbility, a national nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and expanding opportunities for people with disabilities, thanks Golden Globe lifetime achievement award-winner Meryl Streep for talking about the importance of not making fun of people with disabilities.

“Disrespect invites disrespect; violence incites violence,” the winner of the Cecil B. DeMille Award said during her acceptance speech. “And when the powerful use their position to bully others, we all lose.”

President-elect Donald Trump fired back via Twitter, calling Streep “over-rated” and “Hillary flunky who lost big.”

RespectAbility, while grateful to Streep for “talking the talk,” challenges her to “walk the walk.”

“Now I hope that Meryl Steep will use her power and influence to ensure that television and movies include people with disabilities with accurate and positive portrayals,” RespectAbility’s President Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi said. “Think about it – according to the U.S. Census, almost 1-in-5 of us has a disability. Yet according to GLAAD, fewer than two percent of scripted television characters have disabilities. For all the hundreds of shows on television, we are talking just 15 characters!”

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Media Access Awards Honors Speechless, Born This Way for Normalizing Disability

Speechless' Cedric Yarbrough, Scott Silveri, Melvin Mar and Micah Fowler smiling and posing with Silveri and Mar's award

Speechless’ Cedric Yarbrough, Scott Silveri, Melvin Mar and Micah Fowler (Photo Credit: Michael Hansel)

Los Angeles – As Hollywood came together to celebrate people with disabilities, media creators recognized the importance of accurate representation of the largest minority in the U.S.

Scott Silveri’s new hit show on ABC, Speechless, which features a young man with cerebral palsy (Micah Fowler), won three awards including two for Silveri (Writers Guild of America West Evan Somers Memorial Award and SAG-AFTRA Disability Awareness Award along with director/producer Jake Kasdan and producer Melvin Mar).

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Season Finale of Diverse and Fabulous Emmy-Winner #BornThisWay Airs Tonight

A&E Renews Series for Third Season

Text: The Emmy-Award winning series returns: Born This Way with images of the castWashington, Sept. 27 – Following its Emmy win for outstanding unstructured reality show, Born This Way has been renewed by A&E for a third season. This is the first time a series starring a cast with disabilities has won an Emmy Award.

Produced by Bunim/Murray Productions, Born This Way, an unscripted reality show on A&E, follows the lives of seven young adults with Down syndrome along with their family and friends in Southern California. Because its focus is on showing their everyday lives, including employment, efforts for independent housing, loves and more, Born this Way breaks down stigmas surrounding disability.

Show creator and Executive Producer Jonathan Murray, the innovator behind the first-ever reality-show, The Real World, and many other hit shows including Keeping Up with the Kardashians, credits the show’s positive message and groundbreaking vision of diversity on screen with the show’s success.

“In thinking about the show, we wanted to focus on the ability within the disability and I think that is what is exciting to see,” said Murray. “We are also very proud of the fact that our cast is very diverse. Born This Way is not only the first show to win an Emmy that stars people with disabilities – it also has a cast that includes people who are African AmericanHispanic and Asian. This is a breakthrough for those minority communities as well.”

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Born This Way #BTWChat: September 27

Join our ninth Twitter chat on September 27 at 9/8c!

Hosted by Lauren Appelbaum and Cara Liebowitz of RespectAbility, this Twitter chat will take a look at ideas explored in Born This Way by the young adults with Down syndrome and their parents. Following this chat, join us in live tweeting each episode of the second season, airing on A&E at 10/9c.

In the season two finale, Megan learns the hard way that taking care of a baby is not anything like she imagined it would be, Rachel finds romance on the road to fitness and Steven finally faces up to his feelings about Megan.

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Born This Way #BTWChat: September 20

Join our eighth Twitter chat on September 20 at 9/8c!

Hosted by Lauren Appelbaum and Cara Liebowitz of RespectAbility, this Twitter chat will take a look at ideas explored in Born This Way by the young adults with Down syndrome and their parents. Following this chat, join us in live tweeting each episode of the second season, airing on A&E at 10/9c.

During tonight’s #BTWchat, we take a look at achieving dreams! The first part focuses on Cristina’s dance competition & John’s new rap star successes. The second part focuses on Megan’s love life triangle with Brendan and Steven.

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Respect Ability - Fighting Stigmas. Advancing Opportunities.

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