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Press Releases

The Healing Powers of Dude’s Emmy Nominations Show Disability is a Winning Theme

A scene from Healing Powers of Dude with Jace Chapman as Noah holding a dog inside a school. Text: 5 Daytime Emmy Awards Nominations, including Principal Performance in a Children's Program - Jace Chapman, Directing team for a preschool, children's or family viewing program. The Healing Powers of Dude. Netflix icon.Los Angeles, July 1 – Netflix’s The Healing Powers of Dude, which took disability inclusion to a new level when it premiered in January 2020, has received four Daytime Emmy nominations.

Jace Chapman, who plays Noah, a boy with social anxiety in middle school, has been nominated for Outstanding Principal Performance in a Children’s Program. In addition, the team has been nominated for:

  • Outstanding Directing Team for a Preschool, Children’s or Family Viewing Program
  • Outstanding Casting for a Live Action Children’s Program
  • Outstanding Special Effects Costumes, Makeup and Hairstyling

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Whitney Davis: “Don’t Put Any Kind Of Limit On Your Success”

Whitney Davis photographed at the PMC Studio in Los Angeles for Variety.Los Angeles, July 1 – Whitney Davis was one of the first guests to speak with RespectAbility’s 2021 Lab participants, and she was not short on advice. “It’s never too late to pivot, it’s never too late to wake up and start over…don’t put any kind of limit on your success.”

Davis began her career at CBS more than 13 years ago as a Page and worked her way up from Digital Journalist and Associate Producer for CBS News to Diversity and Inclusion Manager at the network. Davis was part of a team charged with educating and fostering a more inclusive culture while identifying new voices both in front and behind the camera. Disillusioned with a corporate culture unwilling to change, Davis later resigned, a decision she chronicled in an open letter published in Variety in April 2019. [continue reading…]

Being Inclusive of All with Inclusion Films’ Joey Travolta

Joey Travolta smiling headshot wearing a suitjacket

Joey Travolta

Los Angeles, July 1 – In 1979, when Joey Travolta was acting on the Sunnyside set for one of the first times, he thought to himself, “man, I want to do this for the rest of my life.” This euphoric professional fulfilment is an experience he strives to help marginalized people achieve.

After mentoring a rising director on the autism spectrum through his production of Normal People Scare Me in 2005, Travolta saw the need for an increase in accessibility to the entertainment world for the neurodiverse community. What birthed from this realization was Travolta’s production company, Inclusion Films, which now hosts training camps across California for neurodiverse creatives to build up their skills in cinema, with lessons in everything from acting to screenwriting. The inclusive film workshops draw inspiration from the hands-on learning Travolta was able to experience growing up in a showbusiness family and while acting at a young age. [continue reading…]

Changing the Face of Inclusion: Becoming Your Own Disability Advocate with Delbert Whetter

Delbert Whetter smiling headshot

Delbert Whetter

Los Angeles, July 1 – As the first week of the 2021 RespectAbility Lab for Entertainment Professionals came to an end, Delbert Whetter shared his experience navigating the entertainment industry as a deaf executive.

During his address to the Lab participants, Whetter emphasized the importance of unapologetically showing up as disabled creative. “I realized that my deafness and my perspective have value. And all of your lived experiences as a disabled person have such importance and you need to bring that to the table.” Whetter urged the participants to see their individual disabilities as potential in helping them become successful in this industry. [continue reading…]

How Candidates & Campaigns Can Connect with Voters with Disabilities: by Nelly Nieblas and Hon. Steve Bartlett

Three RespectAbility team members holding up signs that say "Earn My Vote".Washington, D.C., June 28 – In the 2020 election cycle, candidates from both political parties who made their campaigns accessible and inclusive of people with disabilities won key races and helped shift the balance of power in America.

The biggest wins for candidates who reached out to voters with disabilities were in the state of Georgia where President Biden and Senators Ossoff and Warnock all made their campaigns accessible to voters with disabilities. [continue reading…]

Filmmakers Ashley Eakin and Andrew Reid Discuss Writing, Directing, Rejection, and Community with the new 2021 Cohort of RespectAbility’s Summer Lab for Entertainment Professionals with Disabilities

Six people on a zoom meeting having a conversation.Los Angeles, June 24 – As many writers know, the writing process itself can sometimes feel like a lonely, isolating task. Oftentimes this process happens in the early morning hours before a day-job, or in the middle of the night for writers who prefer to put their thoughts on paper (or computer screen) in the quiet hours when other members of their household are asleep, or others may write in shorter spontaneous sessions here and there throughout the day as time allows. However, this feeling of loneliness was replaced with support and comradery on Tuesday, June 22 when a group of RespectAbility’s Summer Lab for Entertainment Professionals with Disabilities newest cohort gathered virtually over Zoom to talk about all things writing and directing with Ashley Eakin and Andrew Reid, two writers and directors who are both currently working in the industry, and are also alumni of RespectAbility’s 2020 Summer Lab. [continue reading…]

Blue’s Clues & You Celebrates Pride Month with a Disability-Inclusive Pride Parade Sing-Along Video Featuring Nina West

Parade features an amputee child crocodile and longhorn, a dolphin using a wheelchair, a blind bird with glasses and a walking stick, a llama with a bandaged leg, and a frog with glasses

Los Angeles, June 24 – Nickelodeon’s Blue’s Clues & You put out a music video for LGBTQIA+ Pride Month (June) called “The Blue’s Clues Pride Parade Sing-Along Ft. Nina West!” The sing-along video follows a Pride parade full of diverse families who march proudly down the street. This diversity is not exclusive to the LGBTQIA+ community, they also took the opportunity to represent people with disabilities and many other marginalized communities in a profound way. [continue reading…]

Lawyer Turned Filmmaker, Leah Romond Emphasizes the Importance of Collaboration in TV and Film Production at RespectAbility’s Summer Lab for Entertainment Professionals with Disabilities

Leah Romond smiling headshot in front of yellow flowers and bushes

Leah Romond. Photo by Liz Bretz

Los Angeles, June 24 – Leah Romond has proven herself to be an unstoppable force after making a full transition from litigation to film production. This shift in her career was brought on by a brain injury that affected her work as a full-time litigator in a major Los Angeles firm. Romond is now a successful film producer as well as an attorney. Her latest project, Best Summer Ever, was slated to premiere at SXSW 2020 before the global pandemic hit. Despite this, the film rightfully earned the SWXSW Final Draft Screenwriters Award.

Romond spoke to the newest incoming cohort of Respectability’s Summer Lab for Entertainment Professionals with Disabilities during an information session on Physical Production led by RespectAbility’s Senior Production Advisor Nasreen Alkhateeb, as well as Marissa Erickson, both of whom are alumni of the 2019 Lab. Erickson, who worked for Disney as a production assistant for several shorts that premiered on Disney+ earlier this summer, also worked on Best Summer Ever with Romond as a production assistant. “Networking is the key,” Erickson told Lab participants. [continue reading…]

Luca’s Casual Inclusion of Disability Creates a More Inclusive and Accepting Society

Character art for Massimo, who only has one arm

Massimo in Luca

Los Angeles, June 24 – Disney/Pixar’s newest film Luca has tackled several areas of inclusion – including one often not highlighted – disability. This film features characters who are sea monsters including Luca (Jacob Tremblay) and Alberto (Jack Dylan Grazer) who travel to land and meet a new human friend Giulia (Emily Berman). When Luca and Alberto meet Giulia’s father Massimo, viewers see that he only has one arm. When Luca asks him how it happened, he says in a scary voice, “A sea monster ate it.” After a beat, he reveals he was just kidding and that he was born like that. This is the only acknowledgment of his disability. It is refreshing to see a character with a disability like this and have it be just part of him and not a big plot point. It really hammers home the lesson of acceptance in this movie. The dad not having an arm at first made him really scary, but it is just a part of him that people don’t understand.

Ashley Eakin, a writer/director who was born with a limb difference, also agrees that Luca has handled this representation well. “Luca is a great example of how we can include representation of people with different bodies in all of our content. Too often the character with some type of disability or limb difference is the villain or scary. While Massimo is brash, he is also a talented chef and caring father. They even make light of the way he lost his limb with ultimately explaining it was just the way he came into the world.” [continue reading…]

Cheryl L. Bedford, Founder of Women of Color Unite, Ignites a Spark to Uplift All

42 people with disabilities, an ASL interpreter and Cheryl Bedford in a zoom meeting together.Los Angeles, CA, June 24 – “You help the most marginalized person, everybody else rises,” Cheryl L. Bedford told the 30 emerging and mid-career creatives participating in RespectAbility’s Lab for Entertainment Professionals with Disabilities, which kicked off the first session of its third round this Tuesday. Bedford who returned as a keynote speaker after rave responses from Lab alumni, spoke about being “a rebel and a trouble-maker” in the entertainment industry.

“Turning fear into action” and “fighting for the marginalized” are two key points of Cheryl’s work, but the most inspiring part of listening to her speak is how she embodies that spirit of activism in every aspect of her life and action, offering complete support to those who have been kept down while calling out the others who don’t show up when they say they will. She opens the door for everyone to boldly proclaim “I’m that person.” [continue reading…]

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