Hollywood has a new entry into the entertainment industry’s efforts to embrace diversity and inclusion with the launch of the Inevitable Foundation, whose mission is to fund and mentor the next generation of screenwriters with disabilities.
Founded by Richie Siegel and Marisa Torelli-Pedevska, both with personal connections to physical and developmental disabilities, the duo seek to fund and facilitate meaningful mentorship of writers with disabilities to bridge the disability representation gap in the world. cinema and television. Currently, people with disabilities make up 20% of the general population, but only make up 2% of on-screen characters and less than 1% of those who write in the industry. working in industry, they will naturally create a plethora of opportunities for actors with disabilities to portray characters with disabilities, which will trigger authentic disability narratives in film and television. The Inevitable Foundation also announced its first two Screenwriting Fellows, offering screenwriters with disabilities $ 25,000 in grants and help building the relationships they need to be successful in the industry. The first Inevitable Foundation Fellows include Shani Am. Moore and Kalen Feeney.Moore, the daughter of Jamaican immigrants, lives with multiple sclerosis, which she considers one of her greatest strengths. She grew up in the Bronx and graduated with honors from Princeton University, UC Berkeley, Stanford Law School, and UCLA Extension. In 2020, she quit a successful job as a black chief executive at Dolby to become a full-time screenwriter and wrote for Hulu’s “The Bold Type” and the Netflix series “Sweet Magnolias”. and grateful that the Inevitable Foundation chose Kalen and me to represent our powerful community, ”said Moore. “Being with a disability can be costly, and this generous grant, coupled with one-on-one mentoring, allows us to create in the way that serves us best: with a stress-free eye towards progress. Feeney is a deaf screenwriter fluent in English and American Sign. Language. She received an MA in Screenwriting from Leeds Beckett University in the UK and a Certificate in Television Writing from UCLA Extension. Feeney has developed and taught screenwriting and drama writing workshops to Deaf participants in the United States, Canada and England, and has been a creative consultant on CBS’s “CSI: NY” and ASL consultant on ” Switched At Birth ”from Freeform.“I am honored and delighted to receive this special Fellowship from the Inevitable Foundation, which will allow me to pursue my vision of improving the portrayal of deaf and disabled characters onscreen through writing,” said Feeney. “I’m also committed to diversity and inclusion, and I want to help create opportunities for people who are deaf and disabled behind the scenes in positions such as screenwriters, directors and crew members.” The foundation opened this series of scholarships in early April and has received hundreds of applications. Over 55% of the applicants were not male and 45% were non-white, reflecting the foundation’s continued commitment to diversity and its belief that “disability is diversity”. disabled screenwriters to unleash their full potential, “said Torelli-Pedevska.” People with disabilities are grossly underfunded compared to their non-disabled peers, but they need more resources to live comparable lives and have just as many talent than people without disabilities. ”Additional barriers include the lack of accessible entry-level jobs such as medical assistants, writers’ assistants, and executive assistants, which are typical entry points to the workplace. industry for aspiring writers without disabilities. These jobs may be difficult, if not impossible, to secure for writers with disabilities, let alone use as a stepping stone to higher-level positions. Writers with disabilities are also hampered by a lack of accessibility which constantly forces them to bear the burden of providing accommodations, such as access to interpreters and transportation resources. The recent Think Tank for Inclusion and Equity on the Television Writing Landscape said that 93% of writers with disabilities surveyed were the only person with disabilities on staff, and 97% of writing rooms were n There were no senior-level disabled writers, proof of the scale of the pipeline problem that the Inevitable Foundation is focused on solving.The idea for the Inevitable Foundation arose out of a number of conversations Torelli-Pedevska and Siegel had last fall. Informed by Torelli-Pedevska’s screenwriting work with a focus on stories with disabled characters and Siegel’s family ties to disability, they spent the fall researching the gap in the portrayal of disability in cinema and on the television. “For us, it all starts with writing and story,” Torelli-Pedevska said. “Without disabled screenwriters telling stories that include genuine disabled characters, our lack of representation in film and television will never be resolved. “Our goal is to have an impact now,” added Siegel. “Our fellows are writers that you can recruit and buy projects from today, not five to ten years from now. “Applications for the next round of Inevitable Foundation fellows are now being accepted.