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 America; George Sunga, Casting Society of America; Russell Boast, and Harold Russell SAG-AFTRA awards for their employment of and creation of accurate portrayals of people with disabilities. Joe Mantegna (Joe’s Archived Interview), longtime disability advocate for Easterseals and star of “Criminal Minds” joined actor, writer and producer of “This Close,” and former Media Access Awards winner, Shoshannah Stern (Shoshannah’s Archived Interview), to host the awards.
This year’s award honorees include: • PGA George Sunga Award: Albert Berger, Christopher Lemole, Lije Sarki, David Thies, Ron Yerxa, and Tim Zajaros, producers of “The Peanut Butter Falcon” • SAG-AFTRA Disability Awareness Award: Jay Ruderman of the Ruderman Foundation • SAG-AFTRA Harold Russell Award: Nyle DiMarco, advocate, producer, model and actor (“Station 19,” “Dancing with the Stars” and “America’s Next Top Model”) • WGA West Evan Somers Memorial Award: Katherine Beattie, writer of “NCIS: New Orleans” • Casting Society of America Award: David Caparelliotis and Lauren Port, casting directors of “New Amsterdam” • Visionary Award: Erin Gunn, Mark Rozeman, David Renaud, and David Shore, writers and producers of “The Good Doctor” • Christopher Reeve Acting Scholarship: Lauren “Lolo” Spencer, actress, “Give Me Liberty”
Plus a cast of who’s who in Hollywood inclusion — Zack Gottsagen, Timothy Omundson, Camryn Manheim (Camryn’s Archived Interview), John Hawkes, Peter Horton, Jimmy Kimmel, Geri Jewell, Kurt Yaeger, Gigi Cunningham, Albert Berger, Tim Zajaros, Ron Yerxa, Coby Bird, Molly Burke, David Schulner, Mandy Harvey, Deborah Calla, Allen Rucker (AM’s Archived Interview), Brian Demond Johnson, Caley Versfelt, John Lawson, CJ Jones, Alfred Sheppard, Daryl Chill Mitchell (Chill’s Archived Interview), Lauren Spencer, Simon Cowell, Antoinette Abbamonte, Andrew Ahn, Sasha Alpert, Dave Annable, Papa Joe Aviance, Scott Beck, Mary Pat Bentel, Russell Boast, Sahara Bushue, Steven Clark, Joshua Feldman, Jenny Groom, Robert David Hall (Robert’s Archived Interview), David Hinojosa, John Krasinski, Jennifer Kumiyama, Tatiana Lee, Drew Lynch, Jonathan Murray, Nic Novicki, Rachel Osterbach, Al Rafaei, Millicent Simmonds, Megan Sleeper, Katy Sullivan, Christine Vachon, Nancy Weintraub, Gail Williamson, Bryan Woods and Paul Young.
“We congratulate this year’s outstanding honorees – each working to diversify modern storytelling and shine a light on many talented artists with disabilities,” said Mark Whitley, CEO of Easterseals Southern California. “As an organization committed to advancing greater inclusion and disability representation across entertainment, we know what a pivotal role the honorees play in helping change people’s perceptions about disability, challenging stigmas and showing what true inclusion means.” An estimated 61 million Americans live with a disability. As the largest minority group on the planet —and as the only minority group that anyone can join at any point of his or her life — the disability community is a robust, diverse, and integral part of our global fabric. We are proud to be at the forefront of creating and promoting opportunities for some of the brightest talents in the industry. Easterseals is the first national organization serving people with disabilities.