Unprecedented Opportunity for Entertainment Professionals with Disabilities
Summer Lab Program: June 18 – July 18, 2019
Applications are now closed.
Great entertainment requires authentic stories and genuine representation of all people. This includes diverse people with physical, cognitive, sensory, mental health and other disabilities. Hence, RespectAbility is thrilled to offer an innovative lab series for emerging entertainment talent, as well as a track for mid-level career professionals. This is not a program for actors. It is a 5-week, nine-session summer lab program 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.
Participants are assigned to one of two tracks:
- Emerging: Young professionals with internship or first job experience under their belt aspiring to become writers, directors, producers, animators and other production positions, with the goal of feeding them into diversity programs at major studios, networks and production companies.
- Mid-Career: A mentorship track for more established individuals with disabilities who wish to take part in the program for the networking opportunities and to serve as mentors for the younger professionals.
Half of the sessions are meeting at various studios, including a tour and a series of meetings with a variety of departments. Program participants will have the opportunity to learn about possible career paths and have networking opportunities. Furthermore, entertainment professionals in positions of power to hire will meet a group of qualified individuals and potentially shift their mindsets in equity goals for hiring. The remaining sessions will meet at RespectAbility’s partner locations around the city. Each lab session will include guest speakers and leaders in the industry, including from Bunim/Murray Productions, GLAAD, Sundance Institute and more.
Important Details for Summer Lab Applicants
- Excellent communication and organizational skills are strongly preferred, and participants should exhibit leadership skills to complete their own projects.
- Strong preference for college graduates. However, a degree is not required.
- Commit for nine sessions over 5 weeks (June 18 – July 18, 2019). People who will miss more than one session should not apply for the emerging track. If interested in the mid-career track and will miss more than one session, please note in your application.
- Each session will take place in the afternoon or early evening on weekdays for approximately 5 hours. Sessions take place at various locations in the Los Angeles area.
- The value of this summer lab program is thousands of dollars. However, there is no cost to participate in this competitive program.
- While people at all income levels are encouraged to apply, extra consideration will be given to people on SSI, SNAP and TANF.
- Partnerships include Bunim/Murray Productions, Comcast NBCUniversal, GLAAD, Sundance Institute, The Walt Disney Company and more.
- RespectAbility will provide ASL interpreters for all educational and related networking events during lab program hours, and welcomes other accommodations requests.
- Applications considered on a rolling basis. Spaces are limited to 10 individuals in each track.
- To apply, please send your resume, cover letter and a sample of your work (i.e. a script you have written, a short you have edited, etc.) to Lauren Appelbaum at firstname.lastname@example.org. Your application materials will be evaluated by RespectAbility staff members as well as faculty advisors, listed below.
Founder, The Miracle Project
|Diana Elizabeth Jordan
Actor / Director / Producer / Speaker / Educator-Facilitator, Performing Arts Studio West
Director, Hollywood Bureau, Muslim Public Affairs Council
Founder and Executive Consultant, Bunim-Murray
Writer, The Good Doctor
Founder, The Divas With Disabilities Project
Chief Operating Officer & Head of Business Affairs, Exodus Film Group
Talent Agent, KMR Diversity Department
Dates and Locations
We will be meeting twice a week in the afternoons/evenings, Tuesday and Thursdays beginning June 18 and ending July 18, with no session on July 4. The locations vary, but they all are in the greater Los Angeles area. All summer lab sessions are 4-5 hours in the afternoon / early evening between the hours of 1:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.
Speakers (with more to be announced)
- Sasha Alpert, EVP of Entertainment and Development, Bunim/Murray Productions (June 25)
- Candace Cable, nine-time Paralympian and Vice Chair of the Board of LA 2028
- Lee Chernotsky, Founder, ROSIES Foundation
- Shamey Cramer, Festival Director, ReelAbilities Film Festival: Los Angeles
- Whitney Davis, Founder, Inclusion in Hollywood (June 18)
- Pam Dixon, Casting Director
- Jenni Gold, Director, Gold Pictures
- Elaine Hall, Founder, The Miracle Project (June 18)
- Elizabeth Kilpatrick, Vice President of Development, Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media
- John Lawson, Writer/Director and Actor (June 18)
- Leah Meyerhoff, Founder, Film Fatales
- Jonathan Murray, Founder and Executive Consultant, Bunim/Murray Productions (June 25)
- Ryan O’Connell, Writer and Creator of Netflix’s Special (June 25)
- Isabelle Redman, Director of Development, LeVar Burton Media
- Maddy Roth, Executive, Foundation at Creative Artists Agency
- Allen Rucker, Chair, Writers with Disabilities Committee, Writers Guild of America West
- Mark Slavkin, Director of Education, Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts (June 18)
- Megan Sleeper, SVP of Casting, Bunim/Murray Productions (June 25)
- Michele Spitz, Professional Voiceover Artist and Philanthropist, Woman of Her Word (June 18)
- Megan Townsend, Director of Entertainment Research & Analysis, GLAAD
- Delbert Whetter, Chief Operating Officer & Head of Business Affairs, Exodus Film Group (June 18)
- Aaron Wolf, Director, Actor, Writer and Co-Founder, Howling Wolf Productions
- Michelle Wolf, Founding Executive Director, Jewish Los Angeles Special Needs Trust
- Kurt Yaeger, Producer/Director, Writer and Actor (June 18)
- Melissa Elmira Yingst, Anchor, DPAN.tv
- David Zimmerman, Founder, Meet the Biz
More Background Information
Just 2.1 percent of scripted television characters have disabilities, compared to 25 percent of American adults having a disability. Entertainment contributes to our values and ideals. What we see and feel impacts how we act. RespectAbility works with entertainment leaders to promote positive, accurate, diverse and inclusive media portrayals on TV and in film.
- Almost all portrayals of people with disabilities are white, despite the fact that disability impacts all.
- Actors without disabilities play more than 95% of all characters with disabilities.
Opening the inclusion umbrella is the right thing to do as well as economically smart given that the disability market is valued at more than $1 trillion.
Learn more: www.respectability.org/hollywood-inclusion.