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April Caputi

RespectAbility Entertainment Professionals Lab, Summer 2019

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April Caputi

April Caputi is a 2017 Bachelor of Cinema & Media Arts graduate from Biola University with an emphasis in Production. She developed an interest in talent representation and casting when she became aware that actors with disabilities often are misrepresented in the media. After temping as a Talent Casting Coordinator for Disneyland Live Entertainment, April became a Casting Assistant for AMC Network’s first show, This Close, to be created, written by, and starring Deaf actors. She led a Deaf Community Outreach Initiative to cast roles where Deaf actors and minors were needed. 

April would like to continue developing initiatives to bridge the gap between the entertainment industry and the disability community. Currently, April is looking for opportunities where she can incorporate inclusion through scouting a diverse array of talented actors or consulting on how to ensure authentic disability representation on screen.

LEARN MORE

After an extensive search and interview process, 22 individuals were invited to participate in RespectAbility’s Summer 2019 Lab for Entertainment Professionals. This 5-week, nine-session innovative summer lab series for people interested in – and with experience in – development, production and post-production, including careers as writers, directors, producers, cinematographers, animators and other production roles, takes place June 18 – July 18, 2019. Participants include diverse people with physical, cognitive, sensory, mental health and other disabilities. Learn more: www.respectability.org/respectability-la-lab.

This program, which continues building the talent pipeline of young professionals with disabilities looking to work behind the scenes, is made possible with support by: Comcast NBCUniversalJonathan Murray and The Walt Disney Company.

Amelia Bernstein

RespectAbility Entertainment Professionals Lab, Summer 2019

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Amelia Bernstein

Amelia Bernstein was born Deaf, to Deaf parents in the Bay Area, growing up bilingual in American Sign Language and English. After graduating with a Bachelors Degree in Digital Arts from Chapman University, she has been freelancing as a 2D animator and storyboard artist in the greater Los Angeles area. In her free time, she writes plays and teaches historical crafts at the Renaissance Pleasure Faire.

LEARN MORE

After an extensive search and interview process, 22 individuals were invited to participate in RespectAbility’s Summer 2019 Lab for Entertainment Professionals. This 5-week, nine-session innovative summer lab series for people interested in – and with experience in – development, production and post-production, including careers as writers, directors, producers, cinematographers, animators and other production roles, takes place June 18 – July 18, 2019. Participants include diverse people with physical, cognitive, sensory, mental health and other disabilities. Learn more: www.respectability.org/respectability-la-lab.

This program, which continues building the talent pipeline of young professionals with disabilities looking to work behind the scenes, is made possible with support by: Comcast NBCUniversalJonathan Murray and The Walt Disney Company.

Avian Anderson

RespectAbility Entertainment Professionals Lab, Summer 2019

Avian Anderson headshot

Avian Anderson

Avian Anderson is a professional storyboard artist and character designer. She has worked for studios such as Warner Brothers, Hasbro, Dreamworks, and various other animation studios. She earner her BFA in Illustration from the Rhode Island School of Design.

Avian has ADHD, depression and anxiety but likes to think of her disorders like The Hulk. A superpower with the ability to help or hinder, that simply must be managed. The disorders plus the skills she learned from managing them became very useful in working in animation: her ability to create ideas at rapid speed thanks to her hyper connected brain, her sense of humor she developed from trying to beat her depression, and her ability to come up with multiple outcomes, which is helpful in story creation and file management. She would like to create a cartoon showing how much differences can be like superpowers.

LEARN MORE

After an extensive search and interview process, 22 individuals were invited to participate in RespectAbility’s Summer 2019 Lab for Entertainment Professionals. This 5-week, nine-session innovative summer lab series for people interested in – and with experience in – development, production and post-production, including careers as writers, directors, producers, cinematographers, animators and other production roles, takes place June 18 – July 18, 2019. Participants include diverse people with physical, cognitive, sensory, mental health and other disabilities. Learn more: www.respectability.org/respectability-la-lab.

This program, which continues building the talent pipeline of young professionals with disabilities looking to work behind the scenes, is made possible with support by: Comcast NBCUniversalJonathan Murray and The Walt Disney Company.

Keith Hedlund

RespectAbility Entertainment Professionals Lab, Summer 2019

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Keith Hedlund

A director, writer, educator and creative consultant, Keith Hedlund has worked for George Clooney’s Smokehouse Pictures, Creative Differences Productions, the AMDA College and Conservatory, and UCLA’s Center for Engineering, Media and Performance. He holds an MFA in directing and production from the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television and an MFA in creative writing from Brown University. His work has received a Sloan Science & Film Feature Screenwriting Award and multiple short film awards. 

Hedlund’s stories take on eclectic themes and genres, including live action narrative, documentary, and animation. Some have social and historical themes that reflect his previous work in social and political advocacy, and many toe the line between drama and comedy. He currently works as a screenwriting consultant and advisor for The Script House and is a member of the Caucus for Producers, Writers & Directors.

LEARN MORE

After an extensive search and interview process, 22 individuals were invited to participate in RespectAbility’s Summer 2019 Lab for Entertainment Professionals. This 5-week, nine-session innovative summer lab series for people interested in – and with experience in – development, production and post-production, including careers as writers, directors, producers, cinematographers, animators and other production roles, takes place June 18 – July 18, 2019. Participants include diverse people with physical, cognitive, sensory, mental health and other disabilities. Learn more: www.respectability.org/respectability-la-lab.

This program, which continues building the talent pipeline of young professionals with disabilities looking to work behind the scenes, is made possible with support by: Comcast NBCUniversalJonathan Murray and The Walt Disney Company.

Jenni Gold

RespectAbility Entertainment Professionals Lab, Summer 2019

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Jenni Gold

Jenni Gold is considered a triple threat in the world of entertainment. Her advanced editing and screenwriting skills serve as a foundation for her directorial efforts, which have received multiple awards and have placed her among the best in her field as a Director Member of the Directors Guild of America. Jenni is the founder of Gold Pictures, Inc., a development / production entity established in 2001.

In addition to directing the feature film Ready, Willing, and Able, short films, PSA’s, music videos, and the recently distributed and star-studded feature documentary CinemAbility, Jenni has co-written and is developing narrative feature films including a suspense thriller titled Adrenaline and the family film Lucky. She also recently directed the comedy/horror feature film Aaah Roach! which is currently in post.

Jenni has Muscular Dystrophy and has used a wheelchair since the age of seven. She went to film school at the University of Central Florida where she graduated Summa Cum Laude with two BA degrees, one in Motion Picture Production and another in Radio and Television Broadcasting. Her passion for storytelling and entertaining audiences is clearly evident in her work and achievements.

LEARN MORE

After an extensive search and interview process, 22 individuals were invited to participate in RespectAbility’s Summer 2019 Lab for Entertainment Professionals. This 5-week, nine-session innovative summer lab series for people interested in – and with experience in – development, production and post-production, including careers as writers, directors, producers, cinematographers, animators and other production roles, takes place June 18 – July 18, 2019. Participants include diverse people with physical, cognitive, sensory, mental health and other disabilities. Learn more: www.respectability.org/respectability-la-lab.

This program, which continues building the talent pipeline of young professionals with disabilities looking to work behind the scenes, is made possible with support by: Comcast NBCUniversalJonathan Murray and The Walt Disney Company.

John Lawson

RespectAbility Entertainment Professionals Lab, Summer 2019

John Lawson smiling headshot

John Lawson

In 1987 while working a “real job” (as his dad use to say) in between acting and singing jobs, John was injured in an electrical accident painting an above ground water storage tank that resulted in 30 percent burns to his body and amputations of both hands. John started playing piano at age three, started lessons at four and studied piano for 17 years. After four months in the North Carolina Jay-Cee Burn Center, at age 30, John left with hooks in place of hands. Since leaving the hospital, John has become the first double hand amputee to be trained and certified as a private pilot in the U.S. and the only double hand amputee to be a certified PADI SCUBA Instructor in the world.

John is an award winning writer/director and PWD (person with a disability) actor with past television roles in Law and Order: SVU, Switched at Birth and American Horror Story: FREAK SHOW, as well as roles in numerous films. John has spent more than 25 years as an advocate for accuracy and authenticity of performers with disabilities in film and television. 

LEARN MORE

After an extensive search and interview process, 22 individuals were invited to participate in RespectAbility’s Summer 2019 Lab for Entertainment Professionals. This 5-week, nine-session innovative summer lab series for people interested in – and with experience in – development, production and post-production, including careers as writers, directors, producers, cinematographers, animators and other production roles, takes place June 18 – July 18, 2019. Participants include diverse people with physical, cognitive, sensory, mental health and other disabilities. Learn more: www.respectability.org/respectability-la-lab.

This program, which continues building the talent pipeline of young professionals with disabilities looking to work behind the scenes, is made possible with support by: Comcast NBCUniversalJonathan Murray and The Walt Disney Company.

Lenny Larsen

RespectAbility Entertainment Professionals Lab, Summer 2019

Lenny Larsen smiling headshot

Lenny Larsen

Lenny Larsen is a passionate, wildly creative, world-changing entertainment executive who just happens to be in a wheelchair. He is responsible for the conception, design, and production of countless entertainment experiences in 27 different countries. Lenny’s experience extends through a multitude of mediums including: billion-dollar theme parks, film and television, cutting edge technological innovations, and theatrical spectaculars.

Lenny consistently brings to life compelling entertainment that inspires, amazes, and most importantly, connects emotionally with millions of people throughout the world. He comes to the table with unbridled creative vision, proven executive leadership, extensive experience in international collaboration, and an infectious passion that wins over clients, gets projects approved, and rallies a team to tackle the impossible.

After suffering a catastrophic spinal cord injury in 2013, Lenny was back to making magic less than a year later. Currently, Lenny serves as the executive producer on two new television series and consults on accessibility/inclusion for projects in all facets of the entertainment industry.

LEARN MORE

After an extensive search and interview process, 22 individuals were invited to participate in RespectAbility’s Summer 2019 Lab for Entertainment Professionals. This 5-week, nine-session innovative summer lab series for people interested in – and with experience in – development, production and post-production, including careers as writers, directors, producers, cinematographers, animators and other production roles, takes place June 18 – July 18, 2019. Participants include diverse people with physical, cognitive, sensory, mental health and other disabilities. Learn more: www.respectability.org/respectability-la-lab.

This program, which continues building the talent pipeline of young professionals with disabilities looking to work behind the scenes, is made possible with support by: Comcast NBCUniversalJonathan Murray and The Walt Disney Company.

Ashley Eakin

RespectAbility Entertainment Professionals Lab, Summer 2019

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Ashley Eakin

Born in California and raised in Nebraska, Ashley Eakin is a filmmaker based out of Los Angeles. She was recently one of eight women selected for the AFI Directing Workshop for Women and currently is in the 2020 program.

In 2017 she spent five months in Malaysia and Singapore working for director Jon M. Chu on his Warner Bros. feature, CRAZY RICH ASIANS. She also shadowed Chu during the production of the Freeform pilot GOOD TROUBLE, as well as assisted with the development of a TV series sold to Apple in the Summer of 2018.

Prior to working for Chu, Eakin worked for Beacon Pictures in development, in the writer’s office of the NBC scripted drama THE NIGHT SHIFT and for 10X10 Entertainment, which produces America’s Next Top Model.

Her documentary short THE DETAILS, featuring Henry Golding, Awkwafina, and crew members of CRAZY RICH ASIANS was selected for the 2018 Hamilton Film Festival. She also was commissioned to create a film celebrating the 25th Anniversary of Cancer For College. The film features CFC spokesman Will Ferrell and was screened at a sold-out event at The Greek Theatre. Her latest narrative short film BLUE is currently doing a festival run, while her next project SINGLE will commence production in late July. The film features two lead characters with physical disabilities and is being produced in the AFI DWW program.

In 2017 Eakin was featured in a SoulPancake video talking about her rare bone condition, Olliers disease and Maffucci Syndrome. The video went viral reaching more than 44 million views and counting. Her personal life and medical journey has immensely influenced her passion to pursue stories that help people understand one another. She believes the positive impact of vulnerability is immeasurable and continues to be a representation advocate for people with physical differences and disabilities in media.

Eakin currently is represented at Artists First management.

LEARN MORE

After an extensive search and interview process, 22 individuals were invited to participate in RespectAbility’s Summer 2019 Lab for Entertainment Professionals. This 5-week, nine-session innovative summer lab series for people interested in – and with experience in – development, production and post-production, including careers as writers, directors, producers, cinematographers, animators and other production roles, takes place June 18 – July 18, 2019. Participants include diverse people with physical, cognitive, sensory, mental health and other disabilities. Learn more: www.respectability.org/respectability-la-lab.

This program, which continues building the talent pipeline of young professionals with disabilities looking to work behind the scenes, is made possible with support by: Comcast NBCUniversalJonathan Murray and The Walt Disney Company.

Wendy Jane Cohen

RespectAbility Entertainment Professionals Lab, Summer 2019

Wendy Jane Cohen smiling headshot

Wendy Jane Cohen

Wendy Jane Cohen grew up a stone’s throw away from the Kennedy compound on the idyllic shores of Cape Cod Massachusetts, where her Nixon-sympathizing father encouraged her love of historical fiction, obsession with the Watergate scandal, and deep distrust of humanity. After attending Emerson College, she was hired as the first Writers PA on Mad Men, where she learned how to make screwdrivers and helped oversee the show’s research staff. She then served as a Development Assistant for The Black List, covering industry and awards Q&As throughout Los Angeles. A published poet, her work also has appeared in several literary journals.

Wendy is a passionate activist in the entertainment and disability communities, serving as a member of 5050by2020’s disability cohort and a key organizer of The Media Access Awards, an annual award show which honors disability representation in film and television. A recent MFA graduate of the USC School of Cinematic Arts, she writes historical and political dramas about the corruption of power, because if the past has taught us anything, it’s that people never seem to learn from their mistakes.

She is repped by Adréana Robbins at Bohemia Group.

LEARN MORE

After an extensive search and interview process, 22 individuals were invited to participate in RespectAbility’s Summer 2019 Lab for Entertainment Professionals. This 5-week, nine-session innovative summer lab series for people interested in – and with experience in – development, production and post-production, including careers as writers, directors, producers, cinematographers, animators and other production roles, takes place June 18 – July 18, 2019. Participants include diverse people with physical, cognitive, sensory, mental health and other disabilities. Learn more: www.respectability.org/respectability-la-lab.

This program, which continues building the talent pipeline of young professionals with disabilities looking to work behind the scenes, is made possible with support by: Comcast NBCUniversalJonathan Murray and The Walt Disney Company.

Kurt Yaeger

RespectAbility Entertainment Professionals Lab, Summer 2019

Kurt Yaeger smiling headshot

Kurt Yaeger

Kurt was a professional athlete in the action sports arena for 14 years, touring worldwide and appearing in several X-games events. While getting a masters degree in Hydro-Geology, Kurt had a horrible motorcycle accident. He lay in a hospital for three and a half months, spent two years recovery, and fought through many years of hard work to get back to a productive career, which he found in the entertainment industry.

As a producer / director he has created content for the brands Chevy, Cadillac, Specialized, BMW, Giant Bikes, GoPro, Sena Systems and more. He produced the hit music video Waiting All Night, by the international music group called Rudimental, which has touched tens of millions around the globe with views on YouTube climbing over 190 million and winning multiple awards. He also produced a feature film that sold to Green Apple Distribution called Sedona’s Rule.

As a writer, he’s written, produced and directed nine short films, multiple features and several television pilots. One of his pilots titled On Tour landed him in the Producers Guild of America’s Diversity program for up and coming creators. He’s completed 130 episodes of a sketch comedy series called Tommy N Bobby that currently is half-way through production.

As an amputee, Kurt has been an advocate within Hollywood as a board member of the SAG/AFTRA Performers with Disabilities Committee, working to bring more actors with disabilities into the spotlight. He’s spoken on panels, has been brought in to speak with network executives and is also a member of the Writers Guild of America’s Disability committee.

As an actor, Kurt has appeared in more than 40 episodes of network and cable television, is currently in the running for an Emmy nomination for two shows, Outstanding Guest Star Performance in a Drama (NCIS New Orleans) and Outstanding Supporting Performance in a Limited Series (Tell Me A Story, CBS All Access). He’s currently recurring on NCIS New Orleans, and has recurred on NBC’s The Village (just cancelled), NCIS LA, Sons Of Anarchy and the gritty 1970’s show about contract killers titled Quarry on Cinemax. 

LEARN MORE

After an extensive search and interview process, 22 individuals were invited to participate in RespectAbility’s Summer 2019 Lab for Entertainment Professionals. This 5-week, nine-session innovative summer lab series for people interested in – and with experience in – development, production and post-production, including careers as writers, directors, producers, cinematographers, animators and other production roles, takes place June 18 – July 18, 2019. Participants include diverse people with physical, cognitive, sensory, mental health and other disabilities. Learn more: www.respectability.org/respectability-la-lab.

This program, which continues building the talent pipeline of young professionals with disabilities looking to work behind the scenes, is made possible with support by: Comcast NBCUniversalJonathan Murray and The Walt Disney Company.

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