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The Black List and the Writers Guild of America have partnered with Easterseals — a nonprofit organization which provides resources for individuals with developmental disabilities or other special needs — to create the Disability List, it was announced Thursday night at the Beverly Hilton during the 40th Annual Media Access Awards.
“Inclusion in Hollywood and authenticity in storytelling, starts in the writers’ room,” said Deborah Calla and Allen Rucker, co-CEOs of the Media Access Awards and members of the WGA Writers With Disabilities Committee. “We are honored to work with the Black List to spotlight these incredible scripts in hopes of advancing the portrayal of people with disabilities.”
Along with the announcement, 10 unproduced screenplays featured in the Disability List were revealed — all sourced from the Black List’s website and participating organizations. Each narrative feature in a screenplay includes at least one lead character with a disability. The presented scripts include: Unstable, written by Katherine Beattie, about a young woman with cerebral palsy; The Marvelous Crisis of Living, written by Erik Linthorst, depicting a bipolar teenage girl; and Deaf’un, written by Cedar Miller and Kevin Thomas, inspired by true events about a deaf boxer in 19th century London.
The stories told in the screenplays aim to increase representation for the disability community, who make up 25 percent of the population in the U.S. Those with disabilities are represented in less than 3 percent of onscreen roles, which Black List founder Franklin Leonard noted is “a huge disparity.”
He added, “We believe these scripts show tremendous promise on their own merits and in addressing at least part of that discrepancy. I personally look forward to their arrival onscreen alongside many, many similar stories.”
Easterseals Southern California CEO Mark Whitley said Hollywood can play a huge role in empowering the disability community.
“By highlighting people with disabilities through storytelling, we shape perceptions of this minority group and create a more inclusive society,” he explained. “We thank the Black List for bringing these great stories to the forefront.”