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Photo Courtesy of Sharif Hamza and Christian Högstedt

Today, the Media Access Awards, in partnership with nonprofit disability services provider Easterseals, announced the honorees of the 2020 Media Access Awards.  This year’s celebration, in light of the current pandemic, will go virtual on Thursday, November 19 at 6pm PT / 9pm ET, and will pay tribute to those individuals, series, and films that have redefined on-screen representation for the disability community, while advancing the portrayal and employment of people with disabilities in Hollywood. 

“One out of four American adults has a disability, but they rarely see their lives reflected in the stories told on film and television. The Media Access Awards is an ongoing campaign to change that reality. And it will change. People with disabilities will be seen and heard,” said Deborah Calla and Allen Rucker co-CEO Media Access Awards. 

This year, Easterseals will collaborate with promotional partner Film Independent, to make the Media Access Awards available to the public.  Additionally, Film Independent will host a virtual showcase in the days following, to highlight the work of this year’s honorees and those promoting representation of the disabled community. 

“Film Independent is honored to partner with Easterseals at this critical time,” said Film Independent President Josh Welsh. “Fighting for diversity and inclusion in the film industry is in our DNA. The work of Easterseals and the Media Access Awards shine a bright light on shows and films that powerfully address these issues for the disability community.” 

Advocate, producer, model and actor Nyle DiMarco will serve as the evening’s host and welcome viewers to a night filled with memorable moments, touching tributes, and awe-inspiring performances.  The night’s honorees are selected by the diversity committees of their professional guilds with awards from the Casting Society of America (CSA), Producers Guild of America (PGA), Screen Actors Guild (SAG-AFTRA), and Writers Guild of America (WGA).  This year’s honorees are: 

• SAG-AFTRA Harold Russell Award: Lauren Ridloff (The Walking Dead, Eternals) 

◦ Presented by Joshua Jackson (Little Fires Everywhere) 

• Producers Guild of America George Sunga Award: Netflix’s “Away” (Jessica Goldberg, Andrew Hinderaker, Jason Katims, Ed Zwick) 

◦ Presented by Ato Essandoh (Away, Jason Bourne) 

• Media Access Documentary Award: Netflix’s “Crip Camp” (James LeBrecht, Nicole Newnham) 

◦ Presented by Andy Samberg 

• Casting Society of America Award: Leah Daniels Butler (Precious, The Butler) 

◦ Presented by Gabourey Sidibe (Precious, Empire) 

• Writers Guild of America West Evan Somers Memorial Award: Ramy Youssef (Ramy) 

◦ Presented by Steve Way (Ramy) 

• Christopher Reeve Acting Scholarship: Danny J. Gomez (New Amsterdam) 

◦ Presented by Will Reeve (Ambassador and board member for the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, Correspondent at ABC News) 

The Media Access Awards will also announce the second annual Disability List, created in partnership with The Black List, Easterseals Southern California, and the Writers Guild of America Writers with Disabilities Committee.  The Disability List is a curated list of the most promising unproduced scripts featuring at least one lead character with a disability. It is the first list of its kind that aims to specifically identify scripts that further disability representation onscreen. 

“Easterseals is committed to advancing greater inclusion and disability representation across entertainment.  We salute this year’s honorees for their outstanding efforts in working to change the way disability is viewed through authentic storytelling and supporting talented people with disabilities to build careers in front of and behind the camera,” said Mark Whitley, CEO of Easterseals Southern California.  “Through our partnerships with the Media Access Awards and Film Independent, a global audience will have the opportunity to be entertained, informed, and see exceptional examples of disability inclusion valued and honored.” 

The Media Access Awards will feature special appearances from disability inclusion supporters including Selma Blair, Whoopi Goldberg, Jimmy Kimmel, Jane Lynch, Howie Mandel, Eric McCormack, and more!  Tap dancer and musician Evan Ruggiero will treat guests to an incredible performance, as will aerialist and “America’s Got Talent” finalist Alan Silva. 

The 2020 Media Access Awards in partnership with Easterseals are sponsored by platinum sponsor Kevin Bright, gold sponsor CBS, and silver sponsors NBC Universal and Walt Disney television.  Bronze sponsors include Bunim/Murray Productions, the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, and Sony Pictures.  Friends and partners of the 2020 Media Access Awards including the Casting Society of America, SAG-AFTRA, Producers Guild of America, and Writers Guild of America West. 

For more information about the Media Access Awards, please visit mediaaccessawards.com or follow the conversation on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. The Media Access Awards will stream live on Thursday, November 19 at 6pm PT / 9pm ET.