Skip Navigation
Image of people smiling and posing for a photo

Hollywood Webinars

ADA @31: A Focus on the Future – How Disabled Writers Are Changing the Landscape of the Entertainment Industry

Read transcript

In this session, we focused on the way disabled individuals, specifically writers, are making a difference in the entertainment industry.

According to a recent report from Think Tank for Inclusion & Equity (TTIE), “93.0% of writers said their most recent writers room had no Disabled or Deaf writers.” Upper-level Disabled or Deaf writers are even more scarce, with only 2.6% of writers reporting that their most recent writers’ room had at least one upper level Disabled or Deaf writer. Currently, the Writers Guild of America West and the Writers Guild of America East do not yet track employment data by disability status.

The RespectAbility Lab for Entertainment Professionals with Disabilities is aiming to change this. To date, 25 of the RespectAbility Lab graduates identify as writers, and several are helping to change this landscape. Lab alumni from 2019 and 2020 currently work in the writers’ rooms for Netflix’s Mech Cadet, CW’s 4400 and Showtime’s Dexter, among others. Of the 30 participants in the 2021 Lab, half of the participants are writers, for both TV and film.

Meet 10 of these writers in this webinar recording: Leo Allanach, Amanda Aguero, Nikki Bailey, Colin Buckingham, Tameka Citchen-Spruce, Bella Cosper, Ty Freedman, Sarah Granger, Juliet Romeo and Hilary Van Hoose. This session was moderated by RespectAbility Lab alumna and 2021 Lab Faculty Advisor Ashley Eakin. [continue reading…]

ADA @31: A Focus on the Future – Disabled Directors Leading the Way

Read transcript

Throughout the summer, RespectAbility is hosting a variety of events, “ADA @31: A Focus on the Future.” In this session, we focused on the way disabled individuals, specifically directors, are making a difference in the entertainment industry. Just a handful of directors in the Directors Guild of America identify as disabled. The RespectAbility Lab for Entertainment Professionals with Disabilities is aiming to change this. Eight of the 30 participants in the 2021 Lab are directors and attendees of this event met six of them: Asha Chai-Chang, Ben Fox, Cashmere Jasmine, Jennifer Valdes, Carmen Vincent and Alaa Zabara! This session was moderated by RespectAbility 2020 Lab alumnus Andrew Reid.

Any questions? Please contact Tatiana Lee at Tatiana.Lee@RespectAbility.org. [continue reading…]

Celebrating Disabled LGBTQ+ Voices in Media

Read transcript

As we enter National LGBTQ+ Pride Month (June) every year, we are reminded that disability cuts across all other underrepresented groups and communities. According to a recent study from LGBTmap.org, an estimated 3-5 million people in the LGBTQ+ community identify as having a disability, accounting for roughly one third of the entire LGBTQ+ community in the US. To celebrate these intersectional voices, RespectAbility highlighted a few of our friends and colleagues, including Nasreen Alkhateeb (Cinematographer & Senior Production Advisor at RespectAbility), Kiah Amara (NYC-based consultant, production coordinator and producer) Eric Ascher (Communications Associate at RespectAbility), Shea Mirzai (writer/producer) and Lenny Larsen (producer/director). The conversation was moderated by RespectAbility’s very own Entertainment Media Fellow, Kelley Cape.
[continue reading…]

Celebrating Representation and Inclusion of Disabled AAPI in Media

Read transcript

It is vital to ensure authentic disability representation, considering that disability intersects with all other underrepresented populations. While AAPI representation in film and television has seen an increase in the past few years, there is still work to be done for AAPI disability representation. Watch a discussion with AAPI creatives working in front of and behind the camera to ensure inclusive representation moving forward. [continue reading…]

Mental Health Action Day: Raising Awareness and Promoting Change Through Authentic Mental Health Representation in Media


Read transcript

RespectAbility was proud to be a founding partner in the first-ever Mental Health Action Day on Thursday, May 20, spearheaded by MTV Entertainment Group alongside nearly 200 additional brands, nonprofits and cultural leaders. Though more people than ever are comfortable discussing mental health, suicide rates over the last two decades have still risen, particularly among young adults, and finding effective resources and knowing how to get help remains a challenge. We discussed the importance of portraying mental health accurately and authentically in TV, film, and other forms of media, especially as a means to create awareness and serve as a first step to systemic change. Panelists included Nikki Bailey (comedian, actress, author, and producer), Ali MacLean (playwright and TV writer), Diego Kusnir (writer and psychologist) and Amanda Burdine (screenwriter). [continue reading…]

Example of Best Practice: Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood

Read transcript

A scene from Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood with Max playing with toy carsWith one-in-five people having a disability in the U.S. today, the lack of representation – less than one percent in children’s television – means that millions of children are unable to see themselves in media today. Furthermore, when representation exists, almost all representation of autism on screen is of white males. By introducing a new character who is both autistic and Black, Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood is ensuring that a population, which is often overlooked, is represented. The show authentically cast Israel Thomas-Bruce, who was diagnosed with autism when he was four years old, as Max. “It was exciting to play Max because it gave me the opportunity to help shed light on children living with autism,” Thomas-Bruce said. “I am excited to know that another child can see Max on TV and see himself being represented. I felt at ease playing Max because it didn’t feel like I was pretending. I also like that Max looks like me.” Learn how the character of Max offers an authentic representation of Autism for children and adult audiences alike. [continue reading…]

FYC: A Conversation with the “Feeling Through” Team

Presented by RespectAbility in Partnership with Helen Keller Services & Doug Roland Films


Read transcript

RespectAbility Board Member Delbert Whetter sat down with the team behind “Feeling Through” which is currently on the Academy Awards’ shortlist for Best Live Action Short. In “Feeling Through,” a late-night encounter on a New York City street leads to a profound connection between a teen-in-need and a DeafBlind man. Authentically cast in that role is actor Robert Tarango, who is the first deafblind lead in a film ever.

Watch a conversation with writer/director/producer Doug Roland, producer and CEO of Helen Keller Services, Sue Ruzenski, and co-lead actor Robert Tarango. ASL interpreters and Live captioning will be provided.

The film can be viewed below: [continue reading…]

Panel Discussion: Intelligent Lives

Read the transcript

Intelligent Lives stars three pioneering young adults with intellectual disabilities—Micah, Naieer, and Naomie—who challenge perceptions of intelligence as they navigate high school, college, and the workforce. Award-winning actor and narrator Chris Cooper contextualizes the lives of these central characters through the emotional and personal story of his son Jesse, as the film unpacks the shameful and ongoing track record of intelligence testing in the United States.

Watch a lively dialogue about the poignant film, moderated by Joy Stein, Director of Inclusion and Disability Programming at the Edlavitch DCJCC. Featured panelists are Carly Okyle, Jordyn Zimmerman, and Yonatan Koch, all members of RespectAbility’s National Disability Speakers Bureau: Jewish Division. [continue reading…]

Mentorships Matter


Read transcript

Learn about a new mentorship program by Women of Color Unite, #Startwith8Hollywood, which is enabling women of color opportunities to break through the gates. Learn from women of color with disabilities who have taken part in the program and why mentorships are key for individuals from multiple-marginalized backgrounds to succeed. Moderated by RespectAbility’s Tatiana Lee, panelists included Cheryl Bedford (Women of Color Unite), Manon De Reeper (Women of Color Unite), Thuc Nguyen (Bitch Pack), Sheryl J. Anderson (Showrunner, Steel Magnolias, and #Startwith8Hollywood Mentor), and Ava Rigelhaupt and Diana Romero, both RespectAbility Lab Alumni and #Startwith8Hollywood Mentees.

[continue reading…]

The Nuts & Bolts of Producing Deaf Content & Working with Deaf Performers

Read transcript

Presented in ASL with interpreters, learn from experts with lived experiences about producing authentic deaf content and working with deaf performers. Learn more about communication strategies, producing tips, terminology and best practices when working with the deaf community and how to make your filmmaking process as inclusive as possible. This session featured members of the film CODA, which premiered at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival on January 28. [continue reading…]

1 2 3
Respect Ability - Fighting Stigmas. Advancing Opportunities.

CONTACT US

East Coast: 11333 Woodglen Drive, #102, Rockville, MD 20852

West Coast: 5115 Wilshire Blvd, #231, Los Angeles, CA 90036

Office Number: 202-517-6272

Email: info@respectability.org

GUIDESTAR PLATINUM

RespectAbility and The RespectAbility Report is a GuideStar Platinum Participant. GuideStar Platinum Participant Logo
© 2021 RESPECTABILITY. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. SITE DESIGN BY COOL GRAY SEVEN   |   SITE DEVELOPMENT BY WEB SYMPHONIES   |      SITEMAP

Back to Top

Translate »