RespectAbility has teamed up with Netflix to create a new Children’s Lab for disabled TV creators, which will provide education and training for disabled writers, animators, and creative executives looking to focus on preschool and children’s content.
The training program, funded by Netflix’s Fund for Creative Equity, will include a five-week course featuring programming by New York-based production partners 9 Story Media Group and Silvergate Media. As part of the lab, participants will each be assigned a mentor as they join in-person and virtual workshops, trainings, panel conversations, networking events, and a talent showcase with table reads of each writer’s project performed by disabled actors. The Children’s Content Lab will also provide a week of career development training with industry experts.
“We founded the RespectAbility Entertainment Lab in 2019 to show the industry that there are disabled writers, directors, and crew available if you take the time to look for us,” said Lauren Appelbaum, RespectAbility senior vice president and lab founder, in a statement. “The Children’s Content Lab is a natural offshoot of this. Over the past five years, we’ve worked with more than 40 episodic series in the preschool and children’s space, as well as a variety of kids and family films, placing disabled creatives in dozens of productions. We see a clear need to provide additional bridges between disabled creatives and those who create kids and family content.”
Those participating in the program will also receive access to screenwriting software Final Draft 12, which is provided as part of Final Draft’s multi-year deal with the organization. ASL interpreters and captioning for all educational and related networking events will be offered through RespectAbility.
The Children’s Content Lab comes following the success of RespectAbility annual Entertainment Lab, which has a been a stepping stone for alumni who later found gigs with a variety of studio partners including DreamWorks Animation, Netflix, Nickelodeon, Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures Entertainment, and The Walt Disney Company.
In addition to Appelbaum, the programmatic team includes RespectAbility Entertainment Media Team staff members Vanni Le, Lesley Hennen, and Jacquill Moss, as well as Lab Apprentice Isabella Vargas.
Lab Applications currently are open and can be found through RespectAbility’s site.