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Statements Press Release

“A Quiet Place II” and “Godzilla vs. Kong” Among Recipients for Ruderman Family Foundation’s Seal of Authentic Representation

Tuesday June 29th, 2021

Director-screenwriter-actor, John Krasinski asserts that authentic casting was “non-negotiable” in A Quiet Place II and lauds Millicent Simmonds as “most uniquely talented actor”

Boston, June 29th 2021 – The Ruderman Family Foundation today announced that Hollywood blockbusters, “A Quiet Place II” and “Godzilla vs. Kong” have been honored with the Seal of Authentic Representation award for their casting decisions which portrayed a dedication and authenticity in the representation of people with disabilities in the entertainment industry.

For the seventh time, the Foundation’s award for authentic representation is recognizing films and television series which demonstrate a commitment toward full inclusiveness in popular culture. The current group of honorees includes:

  • Paramount’s horror film “A Quiet Place II” for casting Millicent Simmonds, an actor who is deaf, as Regan Abbott.
  • Legendary Entertainment and Warner Bros.’ “Godzilla vs. Kong” for casting Kaylee Hottle, an actor who is deaf, as Jia
  • Digital Ignition Entertainment’s feature film, Triumph for casting RJ Mitte, who has cerebral palsy, as Mike
  • Blue Ice Pictures’ “Ginny & Georgia,” distributed by Netflix, for casting Chris Kenopic, an actor who is deaf, as Clint Baker
  • Brightlight Pictures’ “Firefly Lane,” distributed by Netflix, for casting Marina Sofia Hernandez, an actor with Down syndrome, as Hope Brody

Post-apocalyptic thriller, “A Quiet Place Part II,” was theatrically released in the U.S. on May 28 and brought in an estimated $48.3 million for its opening weekend, according to the film’s studio Paramount. After starring in the 2018 prequel movie, Millicent Simmonds returns as fictional character Regan Abbott — who uses American Sign Language (ASL) to communicate with her family — and director-screenwriter-actor, John Krasinski was keen to point out how pivotal her role in the feature film was.

“Millie is without a doubt one of the most uniquely talented actors I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with,” said Krasinski. “I only decided to make a sequel because of my surety that she could hold the whole thing on her shoulders.”

“It was non-negotiable for me to cast a deaf actress in the role,” Krasinski continued. “Not only because it would obviously be a much more genuine and organic performance, but much more importantly, I needed a guide. Someone to walk through this process with me every step of the way and make sure we were always being true to her experience. It is a true honor to have our movie be acknowledged with this incredible seal.”

Another awardee and Hollywood blockbuster, “Godzilla vs. Kong,” is currently the highest-grossing movie to be released during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, and receives the seal for casting Kaylee Hottle as Jia, who uses sign language to interact with Kong.

“We’re incredibly honored to be awarded the Seal of Authentic Representation by the trailblazing organization, the Ruderman Family Foundation, which has been a fervent champion of actors with disabilities in the industry,” said Sarah Finn and Krista Husar, casting directors for the movie. “The process of searching for and casting a young deaf actress in the essential role of Jia in Godzilla vs. Kong was simultaneously challenging and enormously gratifying,” said We are grateful for the support of Mary Parent, Alex Garcia and Adam Wingard in not only encouraging this authentic search, but ensuring that, once cast, the amazing Kaylee Hottle would be surrounded by support and respect throughout the process. We also want to acknowledge the actors, especially Rebecca Hall and Alexander Skarsgård, and all the members of the production and crew that learned ASL in order to work and communicate more closely with Kaylee on set.”

The Seal of Authentic Representation is awarded when productions meet two criteria: they feature actors with disabilities with a speaking role of at least five lines; and they are in, or on the verge of, general release. The Foundation announces the honor whenever a film or TV series meets those standards. Previous recipients have included ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy” and “General Hospital,” Netflix’s “Atypical,” NBC’s “This Is Us” and feature film “The Peanut Butter Falcon.”

“It is gratifying to see the two highest-grossing movies of 2021 making authentic representation a priority in their casting,” said Jay Ruderman, President of the Ruderman Family Foundation. “It’s further testament that the entertainment industry is increasingly opening up to disability being an important facet of diversity. We applaud all five recipients of this current instalment of the award for championing inclusion and encourage further authentic representation on screen.

“As the industry has shifted its focus over the last few years to address more authenticity in the way roles are cast and portrayed, I was thrilled to take on this responsibility of telling this inspirational story very often found in the disabled community, yet not often told,” said Triumph star, RJ Mitte. “The public’s acceptance and reception to Triumph has been super positive and it motivates me to continue doing these types of films and keep sharing these points of views for those who don’t have the platform I have. Receiving the Ruderman Foundations’ Seal of Authentic Representation is an honor, as they have continuously worked so tirelessly to amplify this community and I hope to keep making movies that meet their level of validity and trust.”

“When we first saw Chris Kenopic’s audition, we were so taken by his warm performance,” said Ginny & Georgia showrunner Debra J. Fisher and creator Sarah Lampert. “The fourth member of the Baker family had to go toe to toe with Jennifer Robertson, Sara Waisglass, and Felix Mallard. Chris plays off of each of them so, so well. Authentic representation was important to us and only enriched our show. Having Chris represent the deaf community and the actors learn ASL shows a grounded and realistic family and made all the Baker family scenes so much more special.”

“When I saw Marina’s audition, I was struck by how natural and effortless her reading was,” said Liz Dean, casting director for Firefly Lane. “You could see that she was truly engaged in the scene, really listening and reacting. Plus, her comedic timing is excellent. All of the work that she put into that audition translated beautifully to her work on screen. It was such a pleasure casting Marina and on behalf of everyone at Firefly Lane, we are honored to receive the Foundation’s Seal of Authentic Representation.”

The Ruderman Family Foundation has been at the forefront of a movement to enhance inclusivity and authenticity within Hollywood, which over the last two years has seen three major Hollywood studios — CBS Entertainment, NBCUniversal and Paramount — adopt the Foundation’s guidelines, committing to audition actors with disabilities for studio productions. Ahead of the 2021 Oscars, Foundation also announced a three-year, $1 million grant to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for an initiative that champions new perspectives on filmmaking and film history as well as an accessible and equitable experience for audiences of all backgrounds.

 

Read full press release here! 

 

 

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