Opportunities and Obstacles: Representations of Disability in Film and Media
An Open Roundtable About the Current State of the Field
This open discussion drawing together members of the creative community and industry representatives is organized around the question: What actions can we take to help best ensure equity for creatives with disabilities? Additionally, we will consider, what are current successes to celebrate and challenges to address?
Increasing national (and global) attention to social justice issues has brought renewed attention to the struggles for equity that many bodies continue to face. Increasing awareness has brought a host of new opportunities as institutions respond to these very public concerns. At the same time serious obstacles persist. What remains to be done and how can those committed to social justice ensure public equity is also reflected on the screen?
We are delighted to have assembled an esteemed roundtable of many voices who have dedicated much of their professional lives to addressing these questions. Please join us in what promises to be an enlightening discussion with a cross-section of creatives, scholars, and industry professionals who bring their unique perspectives to this shared concern.
Sponsored by the Review of Disability Studies, an International Journal
Stephen Tingus National Disability Policy Leader and DE&I Expert; Actor, Executive Producer, TV HostStephen TingusNational Disability Policy Leader and DE&I Expert; Actor, Executive Producer, TV Host
Stephen Tingus, National Disability Policy Leader and DE&I Expert / Actor, Executive Producer and TV Host, is a partner at Diverse City Entertainment, focusing on developing new storylines for film and television that accurately portray individuals with disabilities and others with health-related challenges. Tingus is a leading advocate on disability, aging and health care policy and is a strong voice for the disability community, fighting for equal access to employment, education, health care and independent living.
Alex LocustActivist, "Sippin' Saturdays”
Alex (he/him) is a queer, Black biracial Glamputee, offering what he calls a ‘leg up’ on disability justice. ‘Alex’ centers the voices of BI-POC, queer disabled folx while weaving their wisdom into other justice efforts to promote access, sustainability and wholeness in all of our collective liberation work’. His Instagram Live series “’Sippin’ Saturdays’ asks the question: ‘How do we embrace the truth that disabled voices are invaluable in our pursuit of collective justice?’ The interview series celebrates the ‘power of cross-movement solidarity and cultural humility.’
Randy Haberkamp Senior Vice President of Preservation and Foundation Programming, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and SciencesRandy HaberkampSenior Vice President of Preservation and Foundation Programming, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
Senior Vice President of Preservation and Foundation Programming, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
As Senior Vice President of Preservation and Foundation Programming for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Randy Haberkamp has direct oversight of the Academy’s Margaret Herrick Library, the Academy Film Archive, the Academy’s Oral History Project and Public Programming. He received his Master’s in Motion Picture Production from UCLA and worked for the CBS Television Network for 14 years culminating as Director of Specials and Feature Films. He has worked as a freelance television producer and as a talent agent and is the founder of The Silent Society, a silent film preservation and appreciation group that has presented and preserved silent films in Los Angeles for more than 30 years.
Ajani “AJ” MurrayActor; Advocate
Ajani “AJ” Murray (he/his) is a professional disabled actor and advocate for equal opportunities and equal rights in the media and equal representation in film. His work includes documentary Becoming Bulletproof , Bardo Blues, Take a Look at This Heart, and Best Summer Ever. Other work includes his television debut role on Drunk History (Comedy Central) and ABC show Speechless. Ajani also served as a story consultant on the film Dealt (2017) and is current script consultant on the film My Hilarious Life (2020).
Jade BryanJade Films and Entertainment - Founder; Writer, Producer and Film Director
Jade Bryan, writer, producer and film director, is the founder of Jade Films and Entertainment, a multimedia company. Jade is the first Black Deaf Award-Winning Filmmaker to graduate with a BFA degree in film production from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.
Dr. Raphael Raphael Center on Disability Studies, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa - Lecturer, Editor-in-Chief, Review of Disability StudiesDr. Raphael RaphaelCenter on Disability Studies, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa - Lecturer, Editor-in-Chief, Review of Disability Studies
Center on Disability Studies, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Raphael Raphael, Lecturer and historian at the Center on Disability Studies at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa and Editor-in-Chief of the journal Review of Disability Studies. Research focus includes the representation of disability in film. Current projects include an oral history project on disability rights and a book on disability and early cinema.
preferred pronouns: he/him/his
Meriah NicholsWriter, Teacher, Counselor, Advocate, Artist
Meriah Nichols writes about travel, disability and parenting. Deaf, she is also the mother of Moxie, who has Down syndrome. Meriah is a teacher, counselor, advocate and artist. She blogs at her site, Meriah Nichols (www.meriahnichols.com), and her contributions have appeared in Huffington Post and elsewhere.
David Mitchell and Sharon SnyderAuthors
David Mitchell and Sharon Snyder are the authors of four books: Narrative Prosthesis: Disability and the Dependencies of Discourse (2000); Cultural Locations of Disability (2006); The Biopolitics of Disability: Neoliberalism, Ablenationalism, and Peripheral Embodiment (2015); and The Matter of Disability: Biopolitics, Materiality, Crip Affects (2019). They are also coeditors of The Body and Physical Difference: Discourses of Disability (1997) and have cowritten more than thirty-five refereed journal essays on various aspects of disability culture, art, and history.
Beth A. HallerProfessor of Mass Communication and Communication Studies at Towson University
Beth A. Haller is a professor of mass communication and communication studies at Towson University, specializing in the handling of disability in news and new media. She serves on the advisory board of the National Center on Disability and Journalism, and traveled in Australia as a Fulbright Scholar in 2015. Books by Haller include Representing Disability in an Ableist World (2010) and Byline of Hope: The Newspaper and Magazine Writing of Helen Keller (2015).
Jay RudermanLawyer, Disabled Rights Activist, Philanthropist
Jay Ruderman is an American lawyer, disabled rights activist and philanthropist. He is the president of the Ruderman Family Foundation. He has focused his life’s work on seeking social justice by advocating for people with disabilities worldwide. In addition to publishing white papers on disability representation in film and media, Ruderman works with actors, disability activists and celebrities to spread awareness of disability inclusion in the entertainment industry.
Lawrence Carter-Long Director of Communications, Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund (DREDF)Lawrence Carter-LongDirector of Communications, Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund (DREDF)
Lawrence Carter-Long is the Director of Communications, Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund (DREDF). A lifelong activist, he currently spearheads the Disability & Media Alliance Project. Lawrence has been a modern dancer, radio show host and producer, and was the curator/co-host of groundbreaking festival “THE PROJECTED IMAGE: A HISTORY OF DISABILITY ON FILM” on Turner Classic Movies reaching 87 million people. His advocacy has been awarded by former NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg, the American Association of People with Disabilities, and others.
Teague Schneiter Audiovisual Archivist, Project Manager, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and SciencesTeague SchneiterAudiovisual Archivist, Project Manager, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
Teague Schneiter is an Audiovisual Archivist, Project Manager and Strategist who is currently working for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, instituting digital content initiatives around filmmaker oral histories. Her professional experience spans moving image preservation and access infrastructure, with the bulk of her experience in human rights and cultural heritage content. In the past she has worked as a long-term consultant for indigenous media organization IsumaTV, focused mostly on outreach, strategic planning, knowledge-sharing and social media, as well as for Flicker Alley, on social media and digital strategies.
Peter FarrellyFilmmaker, Director, Screenwriter, Producer, Novelist
Peter Farrelly is an American filmmaker, director, screenwriter, producer, and novelist. A long-time supporter of disability rights, Peter and brother Bobby were awarded the Morton E. Ruderman Award in Inclusion by the Ruderman Family Foundation for their depictions of people with disabilities. He worked for many years with his brother, Bobby Farrelly, to write, direct, and produce comedies. These include There’s Something About Mary, Dumb and Dumber, Shallow Hal, Stuck on You, and others. Farrelly co-wrote and directed Green Book in 2018. He received two Oscars at the 91st Academy Awards, for Best Original Screenplay and Best Picture. He also won two Golden Globes for Green Book—for Best Screenplay and Best Picture.