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RespectAbility– the non-profit that seeks to combat stigmas for people with disabilities— has announced the participants for its third annual Lab for Entertainment Professionals with Disabilities.
The eight-week lab, which takes place from June 22 to August 12, will be offered in a virtual format due to the COVID-19 pandemic (the 2020 lab was also held virtually) and consists of two tracks: Emerging and mid-career. Participants include people with physical, cognitive, sensory, mental health, and other disabilities.
Participants in the mid-career track are Amanda Upson, Anna Marr, Bella Cosper, Cashmere Jasmine, Courtney Wold, Diane J. Wright, Jennifer Valdes, Julia Skikavic, Juliet Romeo, Justin Sloan, Sam Zapiain, Sarah Granger and Tameka Citchen-Spruce.
Emerging track participants are Aaron Silverman, Alaa Zabara, Amanda Aguero, Asha Chai-Chang, Ben Fox, Carmen Vincent, Carolyn Portner, Colin Buckingham, Gabby “G” Momah, Harold Foxx, Hilary Van Hoose, Jessy Holterman, Kimisha Renee Davis, Laquana Lightfoot, Leo B. Allanach, Nikki Bailey and Ty Freedman.
Bunim/Murray Productions, NBCUniversal, Sony Pictures Entertainment, ViacomCBS and The Walt Disney Company are among the studios hosting virtual sessions, with speakers from the Black List, CAA, C Talent, Film Independent, the Geena Davis Institute and GLAAD, among others. Participants will be matched with mentors – with a choice of professional mentors in their chosen career path or personal mentors who have a similar disability as themselves while working in the entertainment industry.
“This program continues building the talent pipeline of emerging and mid-career professionals with disabilities working behind the scenes while also enabling hundreds of studio executives to learn about the talents and benefits of hiring disabled individuals,” said lab co-founder and director Lauren Appelbaum. Added lab co-founder Delbert Whetter: “Opening the inclusion umbrella is the right thing to do as well as economically sound given that the disability market is valued at more than $1 trillion.”
Lab alumni currently work for Nickelodeon, Paramount Pictures, and The Walt Disney Company, as well as in writers’ rooms for Netflix’s Mech Cadet, CW’s 4400 and Showtime’s Dexter, among others.
Bios for all lab participants can be found here.
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