PHOTOGRAPHS BY CHRISTOPHER VOELKER/VOELKER STUDIO
The Emphasis Is Access The U.S. Secretary of Labor toplines a distinguished gathering on entertainment industry employment for persons with disabilities.
Chairman John Shaffner, disability is a personal issue. Three years ago his friend, actor Drew Bates, then thirty-two, sustained a spinal cord injury in a car accident, resulting in quadriplegia. “The injury took away his mobility, but not his brain power or his spirit,” Shaffner related recently. “Today, Rebecca Yee, SAG national Martinez and Solis with (from left) Mitte of Breaking Bad, with only the muscles director; Robert David Hall of CSI, RJ Roberta Rearent Ken Howard, AFTRA president presid SAG in his shoulder, upper ll of Brothers. don; and (front) Daryl “Chill” Mitche arm and neck working, he is developing several Thom Davis; representatives from animation projects. He has written the Writers Guild and Producers a marvelous children’s book and Guild; programming, diversity and is working to build a reel of his human-resources executives from voiceover work. CBS and NBC Universal; as well as “I think of him as a hero, and actors Robert David Hall (CSI), Daryl it has caused me to consider what “Chill” Mitchell (Brothers), RJ Mitte my responsibilities are to others (Breaking Bad) and Geri Jewell with any form of disability. I am (Deadwood), all of whom have embarrassed that it has taken disabilities. these personal experiences to enWith the twentieth anniversary gage me in something that should of the Americans with Disabilities be part of my responsibilities as a Act looming (it was signed into law citizen of humanity.” July 26, 1990), they came to the Shaffner made this intimate Academy conference center to disrevelation at a very public forum: a cuss ways to increase employment July 10 gathering at the Television in the entertainment industry for Academy of distinguished leaders persons with disabilities and ways from the U.S. government, the to encourage accurate disability entertainment industry and the portrayals on television. The event, disability community. called “Lights! Camera! Access!” The group included U.S. was hosted by the Academy in Department of Labor Secretary conjunction with the Office of DisHilda Solis; U.S. Assistant Secretary ability Employment Policy of the of Labor for the Office of DisabilU.S. Department of Labor. ity Employment Policy Kathleen The all-day event featured a Martinez; Screen Actors Guild keynote address by Solis and panel president Ken Howard; AFTRA discussions on television’s creative president Roberta Reardon; IATSE teams, the unions, and internships International vice-president and mentoring.
• Integrate opportunities for students with disabilities into existing internship, scholarship and mentoring programs. • Cast more performers with disabilities in principal and background roles. • Cast more young performers with disabilities in young-skewing (From left) Norma Provencio Pichardo, executive director, Academy Foundation; shows. Candace Bond McKeever, diversity commitSolis also discussed the new tee vice-chair; Assistant Secretary of Labor Kathleen Martinez; Secretary of Labor Hilda Campaign for Disability EmploySolis; Academy chairman John Shaffner; ment (whatcanyoudocampaign. and Juan-Carlos Duran, diversity committee vice-chair org), a collaborative effort of several disability and business organizations. “The campaign shows that people with disabilities can and do contribute to the bottom line in the private and public sectors nationwide,” she said. Following the event, ShaffShaffner with Solis and Howa rd ner called it amazing,” adding, In her address, Solis cited a ”I don’t think I have ever seen telling statistic: as of June, only such a cross-section of govern21.7 percent of persons with disment and all parts of our industry abilities were in the labor force. in one room at the same time.” “It is my hope that the Labor He also restated his dedication to Department, Congress and our “embrace more of our disabled colpartners in the private sector will leagues in the workforce.” help open doors for people with Norma Provencio Pichardo, the disabilities to join growing careers newly appointed executive director like those in the entertainment of the Television Academy Foundaindustry,” she said. tion, echoed his thoughts. “There is Referring to Assistant Secreno shortage of talented people with tary Martinez, Solis said: “Disability disabilities,” she said, “and it is employment is an issue that is fantastic to see high-level governnear and dear to her heart, and ment officials such as Secretary under her leadership, ODEP has Solis come together with television brought together outside organizaindustry leaders to have an hontions that had not worked together est and productive conversation before — and shown that they can about increasing employment work together effectively. That is opportunities for individuals with why this collaboration between the disabilities.” Academy of Television Arts & SciTari Hartman Squire, who ences and the Department of Labor helped establish the Performers is such a great thing.” with Disabilities Committee of SAG, Solis had some suggestions AFTRA and Actors’ Equity more and challenges for the entertainthan thirty years ago, spearheaded ment industry pros in the audience. “Lights! Camera! Access!” for the They included: Academy’s diversity commit• Obtain a baseline measuretee, which is chaired by Shelly ment of employees with disSumpter-Gillyard; Candace Bond abilities in front of the cameras and McKeever and Juan-Carlos Duran behind the scenes. are vice-chairs. —Eds. 105