What and why is Hollywood so afraid of those with a disAbility? Why does Hollywood and nearly all of the Diversity Programs not consider those with a disAbility a minority? Why are authentic voices and representations of those with a disAbility REPRESESSED – IGNORED – DISMISSED AND THROWN AWAY? You say they are not? Then where are they? Even when Hollywood does consider including a person with a disAbility it is stereotyped characters and/or stories and none are written, directed or acted by a person with a disAbility. So their frame of reference is what? Someone they know that has a disAbility? Hiring a consultant who may or may not have a disAbility? Previous movies that were also written, directed and staring able bodied people pretending they know what it is like to live with a disAbility?
I have been working at a solution for the past 12 years and it is much more then just a single screenplay that I am pitching or saying that if you produce it it will make all your troubles go away! No, first of all, I have several film projects as various stages of development. Two fully completed feature length screenplays, three short film scripts and several short stories aching for me to adapt into screenplays and then be ready to go into production! Second, all of them have three specific elements that are rarely if ever combined in the same film. Thirdly, specific marketing and distribution strategies that will attract all potential moviegoers based on genre, ratings and even mere curiosity since nobody has exposed them to this point of view and the disabled consumer market segment that has been alienated and even slapped across the face with nearly all previous attempts to REPRESENT our lives. This fact alone will garner theatre tickets to be paid from soon-to-be loyal and returning consumers that have been waiting for authentic voices and representation seemingly forever!
Meanwhile throughout the past 12 years and especially the last 2 years I have vigorously been contacting many in the business to present this well planned solution. Yet why do I not get a response, even a courtesy rejection? This only goes to proving how we are ignored and dismissed. Why is this, that even when someone with a plan is not even given a notice of “we are not interested”? Is it because they are afraid? I ask why? What is there to be so afraid of? Since I have the plan and the material to answer to every question and objection someone would have in providing an authentic voice and representation in today’s movies and television, I can only come to the conclusion that by not giving me even a courtesy rejection they can proclaim innocence to the problem or to the depth of the problem. “I didn’t know!” Well, I have a list of 87 people in various companies in Hollywood, from studio executives, to indie divisions, talent agencies, management companies, entertainment lawyers, to entertainment columnists, to celebrities that I have selected based on how involved they are in making movies in Hollywood, such as their own production companies, to those within the business that I thought would be helpful due to their own personal experiences with a disAbility or someone with a disAbility and/or through their contact info such as their through their agents, publicists, managers or staff at their companies. I have documented all of these attempts from phone calls, faxes, emails, and letters to their attention! Guess what? Ignorance is not an EXCUSE! Blame your assistant, your agent, your manager, your publicists, or staff but your name was on the communication that you have failed to even give an answer. What? Legally you couldn’t respond because it did not go through proper channels? A personal communication where I am NOT pitching you an unsolicited screenplays which you will only consider coming from an agent or attorney (everyone knows this and that is why I just want to ask about those with a disAbility and your interest in authentic voices and representation or the films you HAVE NOT produced) and therefore cannot be dismissed through the lame excuse as “proper channels.”
So it must be that Hollywood is afraid. Afraid of what? Those in a wheelchair might dominate and take over the industry? Afraid that they will have to pour money into films that will that have the same potential as any other film to not make any money in return? I have an answer – I have commercially viable film projects that happen to provide an authentic voice and representation and therefore will be breaking the stereotypes and helping to end the discrimination. Is providing both social and business solutions within my film projects not enough? Is it that by not recognizing those with a disAbility as a minority you can easily just create an “outreach” program that sits around and pretends to care? Take applications at your job fairs but never provide for a fair and equal opportunity? Oh, wait by doing these things you can say that you are helping even if this is shell companies and programs because nobody is questioning them. Well I am and I am being contacted regularly by those with a disAbility who are experiencing this first hand. If these diversity programs and outreach gatherings are working where are the products that show the diversity of using those with a disAbility in Hollywood?
Here is a quick look at some of the facts that are supported through links and direct documents found throughout AbilitiesUnited.com.
- An overwhelming majority of the Diversity Programs in Hollywood DO NOT include those with a disAbility.
- Even the press such as Variety, Hollywood Reporter and the LA Times reports on Multi-Authenticity and Diversity only speaking of racial, nationality, gender and sexual preference as minorities. I have even tried getting a hold of The Oprah Show, Larry King and Montel Williams Show. The only exception is when a film like “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly” come along and they can talk about how it “transcends the human condition” which is another STEREOTYPE.
- 2005 SAG report on Performers with a disAbility prove the incredibly blatant and wide-spread discrimination right down to the auditions.
- “There are approximately 54 million Americans with disabilities, and yet they remain virtually invisible in the media.” This is the first line in the SAG report.
- By way of comparison there are approximately 40 million African Americans, 40 million Hispanics, and 15 million gay, lesbian, transgenders, and yet the largest and fastest growing minority over the past decade – that will continue to be the largest and fastest growing as the Baby Boomers enter retirement age when disabilities are more likely to occur, and with the returning military men & women from Iraq and Afghanistan with injuries and disAbilities are ignored, dismissed or a the very best given Hollywood stereotypes and blatant discrimination to represent them.
- One of several recommendations of the SAG report says the industry needs to “Advocate for the inclusion of performers with disabilities in all diversity employment initiatives. Address images, language and attitudes that contribute or hinder inclusion in the workplace.”
- Even of the very few movies that feature a character with a disAbility nearly all are written, directed and acted by the able bodied. There are virtually no authentic voices or representations in Hollywood.
- Even of the very few movies that feature a character with a disAbility they nearly all are stereotypically all about the disability, surrounded by a political agenda, or predictably inspirational.
- After nearly 3 years since the SAG report on this incredible, industry-wide discrimination of those with a disAbility – virtually nothing has changed.
So what is the answer? How can this change? Will it ever change even if given a complete solution? After the business community has rejected my proposals based solely on the fact that my company is in the entertainment industry (read more at AbilitiesUnited.com) – I have turned my last hope to the entertainment industry. Surely they will see – after all we speak the same language of art and business. But despite the numerous attempts, they have rejected me, ignored, dismissed, tossed me away without even a “sorry there is nothing I can do, but good luck” from everyone in Hollywood that I generally listed above. I have tried to be personable, creative, determined, informative, and nothing has worked to even get a response! Wait a minute there has been two responses – one from a manager of a well a known actress and one personally from an actress (which the most surprising is that she is one of mine favorites) which I did not send a communicative asking directly for her assistance – so it was a round about way and at least she expressed concern and support – which I can not express how much that has meant to me. But, two out of more than two hundred attempts (many of those listed above I have tried multiple times to follow up or to get any response) and so less than 1% is not going to do anything – especially when neither of the responses where to the question of assisting in this mission.
So now what? I have prepared to make a mark on this by presenting or trying to present a solution. Recently I have mentioned that I will mobilize the disability rights organizations and advocates along with support groups, the entertainment news media and the 54+ million Americans with a disAbility, their families & friends to protest and bring attention to Hollywood on the problems since they will not give the solution to their repressing actions they force on those with a disAbility any attention. Here are the options.
- Produce one of my short films – “Glacial Breeze” is the front runner!
- Producer one of my feature films – I prefer “London Time” but I love and have fans of “Forever Yours” too!
- Produce a documentary film that will turn the cameras on Hollywood and name the names on all of my documented attempts I have made to get anybody’s attention to this problem.
- Produce the Protests as mentioned above to focus on the blatant discrimination and problems – which there are many as I am listing in this entry – through out the blog and my website – that the industry forces on those with a disAbility.
So which one should I focus on? I am tired of beating my head and heart against the Hollywood wall and nobody apparently caring. Even if we were given the selected opportunity for an authentic voice and representation that they give many other minorities – at least that would be something – but we do not even get that. If I am lying or even exaggerating where are these authentic voices and representations?
So I need to focus on one and push it to completion. And I will. I have not given up in over 12 years even with the massive obstacles and rejections, personal sacrifices, and I surely will not now. Especially since this Mission and my passion for storytelling on film is the main reason I wake up every single day with the hope that this is going to be the day, despite all my added physical, emotional, and social challenges I will face because of being a paraplegic, that this will be the day I will get the assist to launch what we will all look back on and say was the beginning of the “turning point” for those with a disAbility on both sides of the camera in Hollywood.
I am curious, who will it be that contacts me or that accepts my call and to add their Abilities to be United with me and soon to be so many in “Breaking the Hollywood Stereotypes & Ending the Discrimination of Characters and People with a disAbility.” Providing a permanent solution with Abilities United Productions providing an authentic voice and representation and becoming a home for Hollywood with disAbilities!
6 thoughts on “Why Does Hollywood Not Consider those with a disAbility?”
Hey, that was interesting, I hope that the right people will read your views, Thanks for bringing this up
That seems the biggest challenge – getting the right people to at least consider the views, opinions, facts, research, significance, and deep impact these simple issues that have been so complicated over the years that they are often dismissed because Hollywood doesn’t have tie to deal with it – no time to care – despite their self-promotion of being for the “every person’s rights” to be heard, to be free and safe from discrimination. I guess it only applies to issues that are outside the Hollywood circle – the world’s injustices, government’s roles and responsibilities – but they are so perfect they do not seem to need to hold up a mirror to themselves – even once in a while – no time – we are shooting a new film – have to raise funds for the next film – we have a film festival to attend – I have to but a new house – oh and less we forget regardless of the time of year it is always about preparing to celebrate ourselves, give ourselves awards, praise, standing ovations, and the spirited acceptance speeches that give us the opportunity to speak our mind about the injustices of the world and how real we are as people and not just celebrities – as the Oscars are coming, the Oscars are coming!!!!Thanks for reading and commenting!
Keep at it! You are passionate, and determined. Have you tried to connect with the producers/actors of such films as ‘Beautiful Mind’ or ‘The Soloist’? Perhaps they could become an inroad for your endeavors. I too am passionate about disabilities and have started my own blog (http://www.passion-4-life.org“)
I realize this response is more than 3 years after this post so you may have already pursued something like this.
Thank you, though, for a very informative article!
Thanks Michael, I appreciate your comments regardless of long ago this post was first published! Unfortunately, most of it still applies! The Hollywood environment has not changed much in the last 3 years since this entry was first written! But the fight for genuine and authentic portrayals and REPRESENTATION goes on! And I hope that my films will help bring a change to American entertainment that means inclusion is more than just the paper it is written on when it comes to those with a disAbility! Then those of us with a disAbility will finally be considered as more than pity cases, or some Hallmark inspirational story, and therefore being portrayed and represented as real people with real issues and being seen as real people, real members of society and the human race!
Thanks for your comments and support – as well as your work in helping those with a disAbility to be seen as more than just 2nd or 3rd class citizens!
Larry,Glad to see you are still at it! Don’t give up, keep plugging away. Though you are not getting the response you would like to see, don’t underestimate the audience that you already have. Perhaps reaching into this pool of support could give you more ideas of raising the level of disAbility awareness.BlessingsMichaelhttp://www.passion-4-life.org
This is a great article. Thanks for the information.