MELISSA: Hi! Tru Biz is here at a beautiful hotel in Beverly Hills. The reason? The Media Access Awards. Many roles with disabilities are often not recognized at different awards shows and are often overlooked. But this is a space where the industry gathers to celebrate and recognize those roles and give awards. I’m thrilled to be here. I see a lot of celebrities here, I look forward to meeting them today!
Lots of people at a very fancy hotel, all dressed up, with food and coffee and round tables all over set up with a podium and two large screens on either side.
Haben Girma is host of Media Access Awards, with an ASL interpreter next to her.
People applaud Norman Lear, who is a television producer and writer. He stands next to Fern Field.
Fern Field and Michael Keaton are on the podium. Fern wins the Norman Lear-Geri Jewell Lifetime Achievement award.
Stephen Chbosky & Jacob Tremblay presents Producers Guild of America Award.
Treshelle Edmond presents the WGAW Excellence in Writing Award.
Deborah Calla & Allen Rucker speak, they’re producers of the Media Access Awards.
Shows clip of Nic Novicki on the two screens.
Nic: We’re not asking you to clone us; we’re just asking for what any other parent would come in and ask for.
Nic Novicki receives the SAG-AFTRA Harold Russell Award from Jamie Brewer.
Mickey Rowe receives the Christopher Reeve Acting Scholarship.
Mickey: Employers have no reason to discriminate against developmental disabilities or any other kind of disability. [Applause]
Melissa stands against one of the large screens in a spotlight.
MELISSA: You know, Tru Biz is a large advocate for authentic hashtag DeafTalent in Hollywood. I had a chance to scope out this Awards ceremony for myself. Some of the award-winners were authentic, and some were not. Some of these awards made me realize that Deaf people are not the only group who are fighting for authentic representation in Hollywood. How do these people feel about that? I’ll be asking them.
Melissa talks with Del Whetter, producer of “Inside Track.”
DEL WHETTER: Authentic representation is extremely important. Without that, performances are two-dimensional, flat. With authentic performances, you’ll get three-dimensional results. You have many layers, the right emotions, expressions, tone, everything. It’s really important. I believe that marks the difference between a good film and a fantastic film.
Melissa talks with Treshelle Edmond, a deaf actor from “Spring Awakening.”
TRESHELLE EDMOND: What’s really important is what the role is. Is it a Deaf character? What’s the background? Is it a person of color? Most importantly the three top things are-- 1) inclusion 2) representation and the last one, I forgot. I mentioned that. Representation. There are so many different issues about hearing people taking over Deaf roles and stuff like that, so I’m here to really clear that up.
MICKEY ROWE: Proud of the experience, with Curious Incident. One of the most amazing things that happened while I was doing [it] is the number of Facebook messages that I would get from other people who are on the spectrum, um, telling me how much, the casting of the show, the way it was cast, meant to them. And most of the people were people who wouldn’t even ever get the chance to see the show with me in it, but they just wanted to reach out saying how much it affected their lives to know that Indiana Repertory Theatre and Syracuse Stage thought to cast the show the way they did. Um, and I think that, young people with disabilities in the arts need some positive role models. Like every single person in this room who are gonna say that they view, uh, access the world differently, or need a special combination, that the world needs you, and the arts need you and media needs you, and this event today was so incredibly special! Sending that message so loudly and clearly not only to young people with disabilities, but also to decision makers who are in the room with us. Who get to see us all be amazing and be ourselves and get the job done!
Melissa is seated at a table with Haben Girma, the host of the Media Access Awards. Haben is reading a braille keyboard while Melissa types her questions to her.
MELISSA: Now I will ask how she feels about authentic representation of actors.
HABEN: Those are very important issues! And, yes, I think that people with disabilities need to play characters with disabilities.
MELISSA: What can we do to raise awareness?
HABEN: More stories like your interview right now, to get your messages out to the world.
MELISSA: Good answers from all of them. I think it’s important that we keep on talking about it. Keep on raising awareness. Keep on fighting. Not just for the Deaf but for all disabilities in Hollywood.