In film and television, portrayals of characters with disabilities are rare. Even fewer people with disabilities appear on screen and work in those industries.

In 2014, eleven of the 813 regular roles on major network television portrayed a character with a disability despite the nearly 38 million U.S. non-institutionalized citizens who report living with an apparent disability. Only one of those eleven performers actually lives with a disability.

To ensure roles in film and television better reflect the diversity of America and serve as inspiration for youth living with disabilities, actor RJ Mitte, best known for his portrayal of “Walter ‘Flynn’ White, Jr.” on the AMC hit Breaking Bad, will host a thoughtful panel discussion on Sunday, Jan. 25, 2015 as a hosted event during the Sundance Film Festival’s panel series.

Presented by Shriners Hospitals for Children, the panel will encourage the entertainment industry to break down barriers and create opportunities for people with disabilities in front of and behind the camera.

Taking part will be:

  • RJ Mitte—Actor (Breaking Bad, Switched At Birth) with cerebral palsy, a former patient at Shriners Hospitals for Children and current national Love to the Rescue® Ambassador will share his personal story of pursuing an acting career.
  • Peter Farrelly—Writer and Director (There’s Something About Mary, Dumb and Dumber To). Peter has been an outspoken and passionate advocate on diversity, giving roles to actors with physical and mental disabilities in almost all of his films.
  • Lizzy Weiss – Writer, Producer (“Switched at Birth”, “Blue Crush”). Her show “Switched at Birth” features multiple deaf and hard-of-hearing characters (played by deaf and hard-of-hearing actors.) She also cast Mitte to play a paralyzed student who uses a wheelchair.
  • J.R. Martinez – Actor (“All My Children”, “Dancing with the Stars” season 13 champion), best-selling author, speaker, US Army veteran. He will reflect on his career and acting pursuits with burn injuries sustained during deployment in Iraq.
  • Amy Purdy – Paralympic Medalist, Dancing with the Stars finalist, author and professional speaker, will discuss her inspirational path to success on the slopes, in the ballroom and in front of the camera.
  • Adam Moore, Moderator—National director of EEO & Diversity for SAG-AFTRA. Moore is responsible for developing and implementing a national diversity plan of action for SAG-AFTRA to achieve accurate representation of those groups historically excluded from the entertainment and news media.
  • Attendees: Tim Daly (“Madame Secretary”), Alfonso Gomez-Rejon (Director of “American Horror Story”), Kearran Giovanni (“Major Crimes”) and Allen Maldonado (“Dope”).

Shriners Hospitals for Children is changing lives every day through innovative pediatric specialty care, world-class research and outstanding medical education. Our 22 facilities, located in the United States, Canada and Mexico, provide advanced care for children with orthopedic conditions, burns, spinal cord injuries, and cleft lip and palate. All services are provided, regardless of the family’s ability to pay.

WHEN: Sunday, January 25, 2015
4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
WHERE: Filmmakers Lodge
550 Main Street, Second Floor Park City, UT 84060

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