Statements & Press Releases

Statements & Press Releases

Statements Press Release

Academy Spotlights Filmmakers with Disabilities with Virtual Program in Honor of ADA 30th Anniversary

October 20, 2020

Introductions by Oscar®-winning actors Whoopi Goldberg and Marlee Matlin


Panelists include Eryn Brown, Jenni Gold, Zack Gottsagen, Jorge Gutierrez,

Jim LeBrecht, Millicent Simmonds, Danny Woodburn, Kaitlyn Yang and Maysoon Zayid


October 19, 2020


LOS ANGELES, CA – In celebration of the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will present a special virtual program titled “AccessABILITY/VisABILITY: Breaking Down the Barriers for People with Disabilities in Media,” featuring conversations with filmmakers with disabilities examining the struggles and successes of the disabled community in Hollywood.  With introductions by Oscar®-winning actors Whoopi Goldberg and Marlee Matlin, the three-panel event will be available on beginning October 26 at 5 pm.


“As the Academy continues to examine longstanding issues of representation within the film industry, it’s imperative we bring conversations about disabilities to the forefront. We thank each of our panelists for sharing the triumphs and challenges of their own experiences as disabled actors and filmmakers, and for helping us to open a dialogue that we hope becomes a catalyst for a more inclusive and equitable future,” said Academy COO and head of the Office of Representation, Inclusion and Equity Christine Simmons. “We also thank Randy Haberkamp, the Academy’s Senior Vice President of Preservation and Foundation Programming, for his tireless passion in creating this phenomenal event.”


Panels in order of presentation are as follows:


Authentic Representation: Why It Matters and How Far We Have Come

Representation of people with disabilities in Hollywood, how it has evolved, and what future progress still needs to be made.  With actor Danny Woodburn, actor and comedian Maysoon Zayid and talent manager Eryn Brown.


Behind the Camera: Why Inclusion Benefits Us All

The importance of inclusion in front of and behind the camera.  With filmmakers Jenni Gold and Jim LeBrecht and VFX supervisor Kaitlyn Yang.


Fresh Voices: Hollywood’s Untapped Talent and Unlimited Potential

The future of representation both in front of and behind the camera.  With animation director Jorge Gutierrez and actors Millicent Simmonds and Zack Gottsagen.


ASL, CART and audio descriptions will be available.


This program is made possible in part by the Ruderman Family Foundation, an international leader in disability inclusion and valued partner of the Academy. The Ruderman Family Foundation advocates for and advances authentic representation in the entertainment industry and full inclusion of people with disabilities throughout all sectors of society.


Additional support provided by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors through the Los Angeles County Department of Arts and Culture.


The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is a global community of more than 10,000 of the most accomplished artists, filmmakers and executives working in film. In addition to celebrating and recognizing excellence in filmmaking through the Oscars, the Academy supports a wide range of initiatives to promote the art and science of the movies, including public programming, educational outreach and the upcoming Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, opening April 30, 2021.





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