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Media Access Awards Honors Individuals Increasing Representation for Disabilities

Hollywood celebrated the individuals redefining "on-screen
Joshua Blanchard/Getty Images

Hollywood celebrated individuals redefining “on-screen representation for the disability community” with the Media Access Awards, in partnership with Easterseals, at the Beverly Hilton Thursday.

Norman Lear and Jimmy Kimmel kicked off the event, which featured Camryn Manheim, CJ Jones, Coby Bird and “The Peanut Butter Falcon” actors Zack Gottsagen and John Hawkes presenting awards along with “New Amsterdam” producer David Schulner and director Peter Horton.

“Changing the way people view disabilities begins with shifting the culture around the on-screen representation of this minority group and continues by opening doors to opportunities to ensure inclusivity,” said Deborah Calla and Allen Rucker, Co-CEOs of the Media Access Awards. “The honorees of this year’s awards are driving today’s representation, spreading inclusion and diversity, and paving the road for the future.”

Individuals and organizations were each honored in eight different categories: “The Peanut Butter Falcon” producers Albert Berger, Christopher Lemole, Lije Sarki, David Thies, Ron Yerxa and Tim Zajaros with the PGA George Sunga Award; Jay Ruderman of the Ruderman Foundation with the SAG-AFTRA Disability Awareness Award; “America’s Next Top Model” winner Nyle DiMarco with the SAG-AFTRA Harold Russell Award; “NCIS: New Orleans” writer Katherine Beattie with WGA West Evan Somers Memorial Award; “New Amsterdam” casting directors David Caparelliotis and Lauren Port with Casting Society of America Award; “The Good Doctor” writers and producers Erin Gunn, Mark Rozeman, David Renaud and David Shore with the Visionary Award; and “Give Me Liberty” actress Lauren “Lolo” Spencer with Christopher Reeve Acting Scholarship.

“We congratulate this year’s outstanding honorees – each working to diversify modern storytelling and shine a light on many talented artists with disabilities,” said Mark Whitley, CEO of Easterseals Southern California.

The Media Access Awards was founded in 1970 by Norman Lear, Fern Field and Norman G. Brooks. 2019 marks its 40th year honoring those individuals making a difference in on-screen representation for the disability community.

(Pictured: Daryl “Chill” Mitchell, Katherine Beattie and Kurt Yaeger)