The Inevitable Foundation is calling for Hollywood to be more inclusive of disabled creatives, a community that is often looked over for jobs and omitted from conversations and studies about diversity. Disabled people make up over 20 percent of the population but count on less than 1 percent of representation in film and TV.
Founded in 2021 by Richie Siegel and Marisa Torelli-Pedevska, the non-profit organization was originally launched with the purpose of supporting mid-career disabled writers. But as they began speaking to groups involved in the diversity and equity inclusion space and Hollywood executives, they were faced with challenges.
“We have this dual mission when we started: it was about funding and mentoring mid-career disabled writers and increasing the number of characters on screen. That second part turned out to be really problematic because we would talk to execs and other people and they say, ‘Oh, great, I’ll call you when the disabled roles come up.’ No one ever called us, Siegel shared at Starz’s inaugural #TakeTheLead Summit on Thursday evening in Los Angeles.
He continued, “And we started to realize that by focusing on-screen and off-screen, it was starting to pigeonhole the writers we care so deeply about, so we dropped the onscreen mission and focused instead on the workforce— no one has ever raised that objection again…They are great writers. first and foremost, they’re disabled writers second.”
The Inevitable Foundation recently released the Cost of Accommodation report that looked at all the barriers disabled talent face when trying to get the accommodations they need.
The report found that 30 percent of disabled talent have had to pay out-of-pocket for their accommodations. These post-tax, post-representation-commission expenses are a doubt hit to disabled talents’ income.
Also, production budgets would increase only 0.033 percent, on average, to support a disabled crew member (based on a $47 million budget).
“I think that issue will become very front and center in this quest to increase the range of disabled crew, workforce, and talent in the industry,” Siegel shared. “We’re really open to any sort of progress, wherever companies feel like they can make wherever they feel like they can start.”
In response to their findings, Siegel and Torelli-Pedevska assembled a creative team consisting of all disabled creatives from 5 different countries to launch their Disability is Diversity campaign, to spread the word that there’s no diversity, equity, or inclusion without disability.”
“The campaign consists of 8 or 9 guiding questions to prompt the industry to start thinking about how they can do their part,” Siegel said. “Some of the questions are: Why don’t disabled people make up 20 percent of your leadership teams? Why don’t disabled people make up 20 percent of your employee base? Is disability tracked as a metric and we’re tangible diversity report? I think most companies will answer no to these questions right now. But how do we start building toward the yes? It will take some time and thinking to do that.”
And you don’t have to be a Hollywood executive to help make space for disabled creatives—anyone can be an ally.
“I’m an ally in this work. I don’t identify as disabled and so when we look at the industry, if 1 percent of talent is disabled 99 percent can be an ally,” he said. “And that is so important because the people in power generally are not the disabled ones. It’s just a huge opportunity to really step up and just stand up for this population that has an immense amount of stories to tell and a lot to add to the room. It’s an incredibly creative population as well just given they live in a world that is not designed to let them thrive. So the whole industry can basically be allies and we’re excitedly encouraging this to happen.”