fern field at Media Access Awards

Fern Field

When “Maude’s Reunion” aired on February 21, 1977, none of us who worked on the show knew it would set off a domino effect that would change our industry’s perception of people with disabilities. And I, working as a first assistant to the executive producer, Rod Parker, certainly didn’t know it would launch a career … Read more

John Lawson

John Lawson — Actor, Pilot, Scuba Instructor and Advocate

What do pumping gas and painting water towers have in common? Neither are glamorous exertions, and neither rise to the occasion of being called an aspiration. Both are a means to an end- a task to be accomplished so that something else, maybe something great, can happen. In the world of John Lawson, both of … Read more

media access award archived image

Media Access Awards — 40th Anniversary & Easterseals 100 Years

The Media Access Awards (MAA), celebrating its 40th anniversary, and its partner Easterseals, commemorating 100 years, presented a celebration honoring the best in disability representation in Hollywood. MAA, founded by producers Fern Field and supported by Norman Lear, annually honors the top creatives in film and television with the Writers Guild of America West; Evan Somers, Producers Guild of … Read more

Zack Gottsagen, Dakota Johnson, Shia LaBeouf

The Peanut Butter Falcon — Actor Zack Gottsagen & Advocate Shelley Gottsagen

An actor with disabilities is born to a disability rights activist. It seems like a far-fetched Hollywood script, but, in reality, it’s 100% true. Meet the Gottsagen—Zack whose breakout role in Peanut Butter Falcon has put him on the map and his mother, Shelley, whose activism for disability rights predates her son. ABILITY Magazine was able to chat with Zack … Read more

Jennifer Goodman

Jennifer Goodman Karum – Actor, Producer, Autism Activist

Jennifer Goodman Karum is shifting perceptions of people with disabilities in entertainment. Goodman, an autistic actress, writer, producer and creator, collaborated with Ryan Atkins, himself a producer and creator, to found Lakefront Pictures. This Chicago-based production studio aims to amplify unheard voices. In their work, diversity and disability are evident in the talent, both on … Read more

Sophie Kim Healing Powers DUDE

Netflix’s ‘The Healing Powers of Dude’

Sophie Kim is a 13 year old junior high student. She sings in the school choir and enjoys spending time with her friends and her dog, Kiwi. Sophie’s life changed last year when she suddenly became a professional actress. Netflix decided to cast a young actress, who authentically uses a wheelchair, in one of their … Read more

Toby Forrest and Jm Belushi

Toby Forrest — the Man

In 2010, ABILITY Magazine interviewed Tobias Forrest. The article started: “I was twenty-two, and I was diving off of a waterfall in the Grand Canyon,” Forrest said. “The water was too shallow where I had jumped, I shattered my fifth vertebrae—and I realized I was going under. I thanked God for my life, and then I died. … Read more

Marilee Talkington

Marilee Talkington — A Clear Vision to Advocate

Marilee Talkington is one of just a very few legally blind actors in the country to earn an M.F.A. in acting. She earned her M.F.A at the prestigious American Conservatory Theater (A.C.T.). She has worked professionally in the theater for over 2 decades. Her break out TV role was Annie Barth, a blind woman, on NCIS. … Read more

nic novicki

Nic Novicki — The Challenge

For Nic Novicki, there’s no task too great. Whether in front of the camera, where he’s acted on The Sopranos, Boardwalk Empire and Private Practice or behind the scenes writing, directing and producing short films, web series, or independent feature films, the guy is adept at just about any role he finds himself in. But the actor, comedian and … Read more

disability hollywood panel

How far have we come?

Hollywood Disability Forum (2009) Like a lot of children of the ‘80s and ‘90s, I spent a lot of time in front of a television in my formative years. Somewhere in my mother’s house are stacks of videotapes of Looney Tunes, Seinfeld and Quantum Leap episodes that I watched again and again until their images … Read more