An American organisation has recently been launched in Hollywood to support young budding screenwriters with a disability.
The Inevitable Foundation was set up by Richie Siegel and Marisa Torelli-Pedevska who are looking for rising writers for film and television.
It’s one of the many sectors in the entertainment industry with a low quota of disabled workers, a recent study from the Think Tank for Inclusion and Equity revealed 93 per cent of writers with a disability said they were the only disabled person in the company whilst 97 per cent of writing rooms had no upper-level disabled writers.
The first screenwriters to sign up to the initiative are Shani Am. Moore and Kalen Feeney, both received a $25,000 grants to build their relationships in the industry.
Moore, who has Multiple Sclerosis, told Variety: “Being disabled can be costly, and this generous grant, along with personalized mentoring, allows us to create in a way that serves us best: with an unstressed eye towards progress.”
She quit her job in 2020 to become a full-time scriptwriter after writing for Hulu’s “The Bold Type” and Netflix’s “Sweet Magnolias.”
Feeney has hearing loss, she studied at Leeds Beckett University before seeking work in America.
Not only does she have a master’s degree in screenwriting, Kalen also has an impressive CV showing her time as a creative consultant on CBS’ “CSI:NY” and American Sign Language (ASL) consultant on US cable channel Freeform’s “Switched At Birth.”
“I am honoured and excited to receive this special Inevitable Foundation Fellowship, which will enable me to pursue my vision of improving representation of deaf and disabled characters on-screen through writing,” said Feeney.
Torelli-Pedevska has an extensive interest focusing stories with disabled characters and Siegel has family members with a disability.
“To us, it all starts with the writing and the story,” said Torelli-Pedevska. “Without disabled screenwriters telling stories that include authentic disabled characters, our lack of representation in film and television will never be resolved.”
Siegel added: “Our goal is to drive impact now. Our Fellows are writers that you can staff and buy projects from today, not five to 10 years from now. We’re investing significant financial resources in and leveraging relationships for writers who will help diversify your writers’ rooms immediately and tell more compelling stories as a result.”
Only 1 per cent of disabled people make up those writing in the entertainment industry.
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