Friday May 10th - 3:00 PM - 4:00 PM
21c Main Gallery Stage

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18.7% people in the U.S. have a disability and are one of our largest minorities. However, the Geena Benchmark study which analyzed a decade of films from the Top 100 Largest Grossing Family Films found that less than 1% of all lead characters were characters with a disability. How do we, as filmmakers, broaden our creative landscape when conceiving characters or casting to more effectively add the differently abled to that mix – going beyond gender and race to those with disabilities as well? How do force ourselves out of what may be a comfort zone to consider someone we hadn’t initially envisioned in the role? And, what are the rewards for doing so?


RJ Mitte

Best known for this portrayal as Walt Jr. for 5 riveting seasons on AMC's Emmy award winning Breaking Bad, RJ Mitte is an actor, advocate and philanthropist who has carved out his niche in Hollywood by breaking down stereotypes and changing peoples mindsets with his easy going demeanor and positive outlook on life while coping with cerebral palsy. He will be seen next in co-starring Starz' new coming of age dramedy Now Apocalypse.

Andrea Fay Friedman

When Andrea Fay Friedman was born in Los Angeles on June 1, 1970, nobody would have predicted that she would become a well-known actress and public speaker, go to college, hold a job, drive a car and live a full and independent life. Because Andrea was born with Down syndrome, the pediatrician told her parents to send her straight to an institution because she would not develop beyond the mental age of four or five. Her parents, Harold and Marjorie Friedman, ignored the doctor’s advice, took Andrea home, loved her, taught her and worked to help her develop to her full potential. In 1991, she auditioned for and won the continuing part of Amanda, Corky’s (Chris Burke) girlfriend in the TV series “Life Goes On” and became a permanent member of the cast for two seasons. In addition to “Life Goes On,” Andrea has been a featured guest star on episodes of “Baywatch,” “Touched By An Angel,” “Chicago Hope,” “Walker, Texas Ranger,” “7th Heaven,” “The Division,” “Law and Order, SVU ” and the star of her own Christmas Special, “Smudge.” Andrea’s life is certainly very different from that which was predicted when she was born. She lives independently. When she is not acting, she works in the accounting department of a major law firm. She drives her own car and manages her own schedule, budget, housekeeping and social life. Andrea says she has “Up” syndrome, not Down syndrome and wages a personal battle against the words “retarded” and “disabled.” “I am challenged, not disabled,” she insists. “‘Disabled’ means ‘cannot do’, but my challenged friends and I can do. Some things are hard for us, some things take longer to learn; but if we work hard, we can do.” Andrea does work hard and every morning announces, “I love my life. I wonder how many new friends I’ll make today.”

Sarah Pollack

Sarah Collins

Sarah Collins is the MWC Vice President of Sales for Walmart & Sam’s Club Team. She has the pleasure of leading a talented team who consistently deliver sales & share gains through best in class customer collaboration, strategic planning and flawless execution. Sarah serves on the Board of Directors for the Northwest Arkansas Women’s Shelter and the Sunshine School & Development Center in Rogers, Arkansas.

Madeline Di Nonno

Madeline Di Nonno is the Chief Executive Officer of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, and brings thirty years of executive leadership in the entertainment, non-profit, digital and consumer packaged goods industries. Di Nonno is an Executive Producer on the upcoming feature film This Changes Everything. Di Nonno serves as the Chair of the Board of Directors for the Television Academy Foundation. Di Nonno served as President of the Glass Lions Jury for Cannes Lions 2016.
Previously, Di Nonno served as President and CEO of On The Scene Productions. Prior to On The Scene, Di Nonno served in executive positions for Anchor Bay Entertainment/Starz Media.
As Executive Vice President and GM for Nielsen EDI, Di Nonno drove new digital product offerings, new business development and theatrical distribution and exhibition client management.
Previously, Di Nonno served as Senior Vice President, Marketing Alliances and Digital media at the Hallmark Channel, and launched the cable channel. Di Nonno served eight years at Universal Studios Home Video as Vice President, Strategic Marketing. Di Nonno began her career at ABC Television Network in corporate publicity
Di Nonno is frequent speaker and has been featured in the The New York Times, Fast Company, Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Forbes, Glamour, MediaWeek, The Guardian and Wired Magazine.