Casting Call! Emmy Award-winning Production Company (producers of A&E’s Born This Way) is casting for a new documentary series that would follow the lives and journeys of three entrepreneurs with disabilities

Flyer announcing the casting call for entrepreneurs with disabilities

Emmy Award-winning Bunim/Murray Productions (producers of A&E’s Born This Way, HBO’s Autism The Musical, and MTV’s The Real World) is casting for a new documentary series that would follow the lives and journeys of three entrepreneurs with disabilities (including physical, cognitive, sensory, or mental health disabilities) to showcase their abilities as business owners.

This show will not be going to pilot (an initial sample episode), rather we are jumping straight to a multiple episode series. Bunim-Murray Productions will film the selected entrepreneurs in their hometown and at their business.

At the moment, we are simply looking to be connected to great individuals to learn more about them and their businesses. In the next few weeks, we are hoping to connect with and talk to charismatic, creative, interesting, funny, and driven entrepreneurs with disabilities for this new television program.




‘The Incredible Hulk’ Lou Ferrigno hears with a cochlear implant

Lou Ferrigno hears with a cochlear implant

By Yahoo! Finance

During May’s Better Hearing and Speech Month, Cochlear Limited (ASX: COH), the global leader in implantable hearing solutions, is pleased to celebrate Lou Ferrigno, 69, actor, fitness expert and retired bodybuilder, receiving a cochlear implant and addressing his hearing loss. Taking the step to treat his profound sensorineural hearing loss with a cochlear implant will aid Ferrigno’s desire to remain fit and healthy as he ages. ‘The Incredible Hulk’ Lou Ferrigno treats his hearing loss with a cochlear implant.

Most known for his role in the TV series “The Incredible Hulk” and being the youngest, only two-time consecutive and Guinness World RecordTM holder for the IFBB Mr. Universe title, Ferrigno has been impacted by profound hearing loss nearly his whole life. Hearing loss started for him when he was a toddler because of ear infections, and he began wearing hearing aids at 4 years of age. Over the years, Ferrigno tried a number of different types of hearing aids – none helping him achieve the hearing he needed. In February 2021, Ferrigno underwent surgery for his cochlear implant, the CochlearTM Nucleus® Profile™ Plus Implant. His new hearing system was successfully turned on in March 2021. Ferrigno now hears the world with his Cochlear Kanso® 2 Sound Processor, the first off-the-ear cochlear implant sound processor with direct streaming from both Apple® and Android™ devices.*

“I worked very hard to speak and hear with hearing aids for so long, but I finally learned that with my profound hearing loss, the best hearing aid in the world was not going to give me the clarity in speech I needed at my level of loss,” said Ferrigno. “My cochlear implant has, so quickly, taken me to a new level of hearing. It’s like I’m reliving my life again.”

“I can hear S’s. I’ve not been able to hear consonants clearly for so long, maybe ever. I have better diction and speech clarity already. Now, I don’t have to try so hard to hear,” Ferrigno continues.

Ferrigno describes the joy of being able to hear his wife, who whispered from 50 feet away in their home, after his implant was turned on. He is surprised by the little, ambient noises he can hear now too, like tapping and ticking of home appliances. And he is very much looking forward to hearing the cries of his new twin grandchildren.

“I heard a lot of misinformation about cochlear implants over the years, but a friend of mine received the device and went from 15 percent word understanding before the implant to 95 percent with the implant,” said Ferrigno. “I’m someone that has had profound hearing loss almost all my life, so if this cochlear implant is working for me already, it can give other people hope too. I wish I would have entertained a cochlear implant sooner. There is no shame in hearing loss and getting it treated.”

Ferrigno has been putting practice into his hearing therapy and rehabilitation as well, underscoring that like working out, hearing rehab takes work, practice and patience. He touts his commitment to rehabilitation, including using hearing therapy apps, watching online talks and movies, as being critical to his fast success with his cochlear implant, stating “The more you put into it, the better it is.”

In the United States, one out of three people over the age of 65 and half of people over 75 have disabling hearing loss, but only 5 percent of people who could benefit from a cochlear implant have them.1,2 Research continues to show aging adults with untreated hearing loss can be substantially affected by social isolation and loneliness with impacts to brain health and quality of life.3

Once hearing loss becomes severe to profound, cochlear implants are the only U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved medical solution to treat it effectively. Research shows that moving from a hearing aid to a cochlear implant significantly improves hearing ability in noise, including doubling speech understanding.4 However, many adult cochlear implant candidates are not appropriately diagnosed, referred and treated.5

Adults who currently use hearing aids can try the Cochlear Hearing Aid Check, a free online hearing check tool, to learn if they may benefit from a cochlear implant. The Hearing Aid Check aims to help individuals compare their hearing performance with hearing aids to people with a cochlear implant, and depending on their results, to seek further hearing healthcare advice to treat their hearing loss.

Click here to read the full article on Yahoo! Finance.

Why Nike and its CEO are focusing on mental health

John Donahoe, CEO of Nike wearing a gray hoodie while seated in an interview

By John Donahoe, Yahoo! News.

John Donahoe is the CEO of Nike. When I was 28 years old, I got some advice that changed my life. It was 1988, and I was a consultant at Bain. These were intense years-long hours, little sleep, lots of travel, constant work, and trying to balance family life with a spouse and two young children. I was glad to be learning as much as I was, but I also remember feeling like I was barely staying afloat.

One day, during a training program for young consultants, a speaker came to impart some wisdom. I was half-listening at first, my mind drifting back to the office, when he asked us a question: How many of us wanted to be world-class at what we did?

Naturally we all raised our hands. The speaker laughed and said, well, that’s the intelligence test.

Then he explained. He said he spent years studying world-class athletes. (I’d always looked up to athletes and my ears perked up at this.) And he said that these top athletes all shared a unique trait: They take care of themselves.

He said for every hour they’re on the playing field, they train for 20 hours. They work out, they sleep well, they eat right. They look inward to learn their own strengths and weaknesses. And importantly, they are not afraid to ask for help — in fact, they view asking for help as a sign of strength.

“Michael Jordan has a bench coach, a personal trainer, a chef, and a mental coach. He wants to get help so he can get better,” the speaker told us. “But you businesspeople don’t take care of yourselves. You think not getting sleep is a badge of honor! And you want to be world-class? You think asking for help is a sign of weakness, not strength. I don’t get it!”

‘I was sacrificing my mental health at the altar of my work’
I was rocked back. My eyes were opened. He was right. Like so many others, I was sacrificing my mental health at the altar of my work, simply because I thought that was the only way.

As my career continued, I took his advice to heart. I’ve been fortunate enough to have some high-impact, challenging jobs over the years. And despite these leadership positions, I have always tried to keep perspective by taking care of myself and by asking for help.

Click here to read the full article on Yahoo! News.

Gamers With Disabilities Praise Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart’s Accessibility Features

cartoon Video game characters preparing for battle


The recent gameplay showcase of Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart was met with praise across the gaming community. With a detailed look at levels, items and gameplay modes, there was a lot to get excited about if you have your eyes on this next gen platformer.

Right at the end of the video, Insomniac also highlighted a wide range of accessibility features that will be in the game.

It’s hardly common practice for a game showcase to mention video game accessibility, even though it is a subject that will affect thousands of players. This break with industry convention is being met with praise among accessibility advocates, who say that such segments should feature in more gameplay trailers.

“I have mobility issues so the use of my hands is a problem in games”, explains Bobby, a freelance gaming and accessibility writer. “The toggle option will give me the ability to work the controls around my own ability level, such as toggling aim instead of being forced to hold it down to aim, using auto-aim features to help me when my hands become tired.”

Bobby has raised awareness on video game accessibility in the past, particularly in Nintendo titles that fall short. Despite the industry taking progress slowly, he tells TheGamer he’s incredibly happy with what was seen at the showcase. “This to me was very meaningful as I felt considered and seen as a disabled gamer. This does appear to be more inclusive than most other AAA games on the market right now”.

Sharing this sentiment is fellow accessibility advocate, Laura Kate Dale. After the showcase, she tweeted “I am so, so glad this is becoming a Sony first party game staple. Other developers, take notes on this. Such a great accessibility feature.”

Both Laura and Bobby allude to The Last of Us Part 2 in their praise of Sony. It was lauded for its accessibility last year, which was so well designed that a sightless player was able to complete the game multiple times.

Speaking to members of r/disabledgamers on Reddit, others were also happy to see Sony platform the topic in this manner. User tysonedwards shared that they would benefit from the visual accessibility features, as Rift Apart allows for extensive changes to the shades used in-game. The user says this will allow many with low vision to play what would otherwise be an “unapproachable game”. u/chaZ04 agrees, sharing that everything seen so far looks promising.

However, Sony hasn’t always got accessibility right. Despite the praise, u/tysonedwards also commented: “given Sony’s overall aggressive stance towards accessibility features within the hardware and operating system like screen reader support, text-to-speech, reduce motion, system wide subtitle toggle, combined with their policy of issuing PSN bans under a Code of Conduct Violation for use of modified controllers in ‘competitive games’, I won’t be buying.”

Click here to read the full article on The Gamer.

Feeling the Music and Fueling Inclusivity – A Moment with Mandy Harvey

Mandy Harvey onstage sideview signing in to microphone bright pink show lights in background

If you watch Mandy Harvey perform, one of the first things you notice about the “America’s Got Talent” finalist is her amazing voice. What you might miss is that she’s not wearing any shoes.

“[It’s] so you can feel things better when you’re standing on the stage,” Harvey told NPR news. “You can feel the drums, and you can feel the bass. So, being able to feel the music through the floor, it makes me feel like I’m a part of the band and not just the only person in the room who doesn’t really understand what’s going on.”

This award-winning singer, songwriter and motivational speaker lost her residual hearing at the age of nineteen while a freshman vocal major at Colorado State University. She pursued multiple career options, but returned to music, her true passion. She quickly became an in-demand performer and has released four albums as well as a book about her incredible journey.

DiverseABILITY Magazine had the pleasure of speaking with Harvey about her personal journey, her songwriting career and the impact she’s had on disability inclusivity – both within and without the music industry.

DiverseABILITY: You partnered with Voya Financial and Disability:IN to create and headline a concert that featured multiple artists (musicians, and even a painter, with disabilities) in October 2020 for National Disability Employee Awareness Month, encouraging and highlighting the push to hire people with disabilities and special needs in order to create more inclusivity in the workplace. Why was this event so important to you and what were your considerations as you planned and orchestrated this event? Do you think it had the measurable impact you were hoping to achieve?

Harvey: First and foremost, I wanted to celebrate National Disability Employment Awareness Month, which is incredibly important because it is painfully obvious that a lot of businesses are not inclusive. They’re missing out on having a lot of really talented and amazing workers be a part of their company and team. And so, it was important to me to be able to encourage businesses to hire diversely.

There are a lot of businesses that are already striving, but [there were also] a lot of other businesses that made big commitments to hiring inclusively with the event. So that’s a measurable impact; even if that means one company hired one person – that’s a measurable impact in my life. We had a lot of CEOs make good commitments to change for inclusion, which is amazing.

The other part that was important to me is that I wanted to have a concert that was totally inclusive. With everything going virtual, there’s all these pop-up concerts but most of them are not inclusive or they’re featuring people who are not necessarily living inside of that community. And so, I wanted to allow different people to have the opportunity to showcase their art and to further the understanding that it doesn’t matter if you have an ability or disability, that you are an active contributor to the world, and you have the ability to make a difference.

Mandy Harvey book cover
Photo Credit:

DiverseABILITY: When you imagine inclusive spaces, especially in the music industry, what do they look and sound like? How are they different from what is most often seen and experienced by our society now?

Harvey: For the music industry, having an inclusive environment is so rare that it’s difficult to know what that would look like. I have personally been invited to several concerts where the building ended up providing an interpreter, but the interpreters didn’t have any access to the feed, so they couldn’t understand what the singer was singing. They were not given any materials, so they ended up just standing there and staring at me for the entire concert.

To be able to have different forms of communication throughout a concert, or in the music industry in general, is difficult because it’s one more thing for a company to have to think about — but at the same time, when you don’t think about it, you’re excluding a large pool of people who could be attending your shows and who want to.

Having lyrics available, having an interpreter who actually knows the songs ahead of time and is prepared to be there, even for big corporate events, having some type of audio description or captioning would [all] be amazing and beneficial. And not just for the people who are needing it — how many times has there been a concert or a corporate event where you didn’t understand what they were saying because too many people were talking at the same time? If you could actually see the captions in front of you, you would be more of a participant than you were before.

DiverseABILITY: The song that introduced and catapulted you into the spotlight was your self-written “Try.” It deals a lot with the issue of self-advocacy, which is the very difficult but necessary first step towards achieving anything in life. If you could expand on that song today and its message, now that you’ve traveled and spoken to so many fans who love it and have shared their stories with you, what would you add or change? What would you tell the young woman who wrote that song those years ago?

Harvey: I think that having that first step is so incredibly important, to be brave enough to even contemplate getting up off the floor. However, I’ve written other follow-up songs to “Try” that continue forward with the next stages of what I did — including the song “This Time.” The central idea of that is, “Yes, I’m trying. I keep failing, but I’m going to continue to try. However, because I’m not doing it alone, I know that I’ll be successful.” So, that song is a lot more about gathering a team around you of people who can encourage you when you fail or fall apart, and who can push you past your comfort zone to achieving something beyond maybe what you’re capable of even dreaming in that moment.

I don’t think there was anything that I could have said to that young woman that would have really hit home at the time. I needed to live my experiences, and I would have ignored anything that you said in the midst of that pain anyway. I was told everything, but I needed to find my own path.

DiverseABILITY: There’s a great song by another beautiful artist called “I Was Here” that boldly declares, “When I leave this world, I’ll leave no regrets/ Leave something to remember, so they won’t forget.” What do you want your something to be? When it’s all said (or signed) and done, what does your legacy look like?

Harvey: If I could work towards anything, it would be to continuously be a gracious and compassionate person in everyday life. Yes, I would like to have a ripple effect for change, positivity and inclusion, and to be able to be there for people on a grand-scale, but just being a person who can sit next to somebody and not say a word while they cry has an impact that is a legacy in itself.

“Try” is about understanding that you’re broken and wanting to be different. My new single coming out in March, “Masterpiece,” is saying that I am embracing the parts of me that are broken, and realizing that they’ve made me who I am.

The point of “Masterpiece” is to say that even though you might not know where you’re going in that moment, when you shoot forward in time and you look back on it, you’ll realize how much you’ve learned and how much you’ve grown. And that’s a part of such a big story that I feel people should know about.

I don’t ever want to change that girl who wrote “Try,” and diminish the struggle that she went through because that has changed and impacted who I am and how compassionate I am towards others, so much so that I would never want to take back any part of my past journey. I hope that people can truly embrace their journeys however difficult they may be, and realize that it’s making you stronger.

Mandy Harvey continues to perform around the United States and has been featured on CNN, NBC Nightly News, Canada AM, The Steve Harvey Show and in the Los Angeles Times. In addition to performing and speaking, Mandy has become an ambassador for No Barriers USA with a mission to encourage, inspire and assist others to break through their personal barriers. She published her first book on her life story, Sensing the Rhythm: Finding My Voice in a World Without Sound, in 2017.

Oscars 2021 – Disabled actors, characters take center stage at this year’s Academy Awards

Crip Camp team pictured on the red carpet of the academy awards

2021 will go down in history books for the record number of Oscar nominations for disabled actors and characters in the Academy Awards. Disabled actors and disabled characters won nominations in prominent categories, all signs of inclusive storytelling becoming a more authentic part of Hollywood.

With three team members on wheelchairs, one accompanied by a service dog, the much talked about Crip Camp made a strong statement for disability inclusion on the Oscars Red Carpet in the 2021 Academy Awards. The documentary tells the story of Camp Jened, a summer retreat in the Catskills where many young people with disabilities experienced the joys of community from 1951 to 1977.

“We’re on the red carpet! #Oscars,” Crip Camp’s official Twitter account said proudly. “Sending hope & gratitude to my friends on the #CripCamp team today!,” tweeted “Crip Camp” writer David Radcliff, who has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair. “No matter what #Oscars bring, I hope this is a tipping point after which seeing disabled people at awards doesn’t seem so revolutionary. Thank you for all the work you’ve done & the doors you have helped to open.”

And Crip Camp has indeed opened doors. It may have lost out in the Best Documentary Oscar category but the nomination clearly led to a major push for disability inclusion in the awards ceremony. For the first time an accessible stage was created and there was captioning for the broadcast as well.

Spotlight on movies on disability
The greater emphasis on disability inclusion was evident all around. A Google commercial during the 2021 Oscars generated nearly as much attention as the nominees. This was a Google ad featuring a pair of grandparents who are deaf using various pieces of technology to communicate amid the pandemic.

“Thank you so much @Google for featuring this story during the @Oscars2021Live_ about a CODA (Child of Deaf Adult),” was one of the tweets. “I absolutely loved the inclusion of the grandson signing “more” when he was eating. Sign language at its finest! #Google #Oscars2021 #inclusion.”

This Fairhaven native actor proves minorities and people with disabilities can take center stage

Brennan Srisirikul posing in front of an all blue backdrop while sitting in his wheelchair

By Seth Chitwood, Standard-Times

FAIRHAVEN — Brennan Srisirikul knew about the Easterseals Disability Film Challenge, but never had the confidence to submit a film — especially since he’s never made one. But after a crazy year, he knew it was time to go for it.

“With the anti-Asian murders in Georgia, it was personal for me, because I’m a mixed race,” Srisirikul said. “My dad is Chinese and my mom is American.” Srisirikul was born in Bangkok, Thailand and grew up in Fairhaven.

“My race wasn’t really ever something that I thought about,” he said. Srisirikul has cerebral palsy and has been in a wheelchair all his life. “I’m disabled. So, in my mind, for so long, I thought like that was the only thing people saw.”

But, Srisirikul said that during the pandemic he first faced anti-Asian racism. “The first time it ever happened, someone walked up to me and shouted in my face, ’15 Dollah! 15 Dollah!’”

Srisirikul also is a singer and actor. He wanted to create a short film that not only addressed racism but incorporated his background in musical theater. Alas, “BRENNAN! A New Musical, But Actually A Short Film” was born.

The short film stars Srisirikul opposite John M. Costa as Mike, his therapist. They discuss the impact of COVID-19 and Srisirikul wanting desperately to perform because of his new-found confidence for singing. Srisirikul struggled with his singing voice ever since he was 14.

“The most dramatic thing that ever happened to me was puberty,” he said

Click here to read the full article on Standard-Times

SAG-AFTRA Panelists Say “Disability Consistently Overlooked In Conversation About Diversity & Inclusion”

RJ Mitte, Robert David Hall, Jason George, Orlando Jones, Danny Woodburn, Jay Ruderman, Micah Fowler and Marlee Matlin attend the Ruderman Studio-Wide Roundtable On Disability Inclusion

By David Robb of Deadline

The casting of performers with disabilities should be part of Hollywood’s ongoing efforts to be more inclusive, but it’s often not, even though the Americans with Disability Act of 1990 makes it just as illegal to discriminate against the disabled as it is any other protected group.

“Disability is consistently overlooked in the conversation about diversity and inclusion,” said Anita Hollander, national chair of SAG-AFTRA’s Performers with Disabilities Committee, who hosted the union’s panel Thursday on disability inclusion in Hollywood. The discussion was part of the guild’s Stop the Hate summit.

“There are just too few opportunities for performers with disabilities,” said Camryn Manheim, SAG-AFTRA’s national secretary-treasurer, in her opening remarks. “In fact, people with disabilities make up less than 3.5% of all onscreen characters. And when we do see characters with disabilities, they are often played by non-disabled actors. It’s a fact, the number of people with disabilities onscreen and working on set and behind the camera is just dismally low, and that must be addressed by our industry.”

Even so, the panelists agreed that things are getting better, both in the casting of disabled performers and with on-screen depictions of persons with disabilities.

Jay Ruderman, whose Ruderman Family Foundation is one of the nation’s leading advocates for the disabled – and for many years one of Hollywood’s harshest critics – noted that white papers the foundation has issued found that “A couple of years back, only 5% of characters with disabilities were authentically portrayed; then it jumped up to 22% a few years ago. We also did a marketing study showing that 25% of the United States population, the world population has a disability and there’s billions of dollars that the industry can make by authentic portrayal. And most people in this survey said they want to see authentic portrayal.”

But Hollywood has been slow to catch on. “In the last 30 years, half of the men that have won the Best Actor Oscar won for playing a disability when they themselves did not have a disability,” Ruderman said. “There is a mind-set that playing disability by an able-bodied actor is great acting.”

Continue to Deadline to read the full article

Photo Credit: Jerritt Clark/Getty Images

RJ Mitte – Seizing Every Opportunity

RJ Mitte collage with his cover image and several samll images of his work inclusing the cast from Breaking Bad

By Brady Rhoades

You might do a double-take when actor RJ Mitte, most famous for his role in the acclaimed AMC drama, “Breaking Bad,” gives you his take on disabilities.

“The best thing about being human is that the ability to overcome is amazing,” said Mitte, 28, who was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy at age 3. “There’s no trick in life. Whether you’re 19 or 45, you can still set out and do what you wanted to do at 19.”

Second best thing?

“I believe if you have a disability, you have an asset. You’re coming from a different human condition.”

Mitte became a TV fixture with the debut of “Breaking Bad” in 2008 (the show ran for five seasons). “Bad” won 16 prime time Emmys and two Golden Globe Awards, among a slew of other accolades.

RJ Mitte at a red carpet event with three other individuals
Becky Curran (L), RJ Mitte (2nd R) and guests attend the 2017 Reel Abilities Film Festival at JCC Manhattan in New York City. (Photo by Jenny Anderson/WireImage)

Bryan Cranston portrayed a middle-aged chemistry teacher – Walter White – diagnosed with inoperable cancer. Driven by financial concerns and a shortage of time, he started cooking the purest crystal methamphetamine in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and making top dollar on his way to running an empire.

Mitte played Junior, White’s sweet, sarcastic and, ultimately, conflicted son.

For the role, Mitte had to exaggerate his Cerebral Palsy symptoms; unlike Junior, Mitte doesn’t use crutches or speak with a pronounced slur. However, the 28-year-old actor has faced many of the same medical and social challenges as his character.

“People with CP overcome hurdles every day,” Mitte told Brain&Life Magazine. “One thing I’ve learned from my disability is that when there is an obstacle, you adapt and grow. You can’t let that obstacle break you down and discourage you.”

When asked how Hollywood is faring when it comes to placing actors, directors and producers with disabilities in places of power and esteem, Mitte says he sees more opportunities than ever.

“You can’t make a movie now without the diversity talk, “he said. “You’ve got to say: ‘We need diversity.’”

And his view on what the industry’s doing as far as physical accommodations?

“Are the accommodations always there? No.” he said. “I try to make my own accommodations.”

But Mitte, who’s involved with SAG-AFTRA as a member of the union’s Performers With Disabilities Committee, says he’s seeing a change; a mutual effort.

“The key thing in everything is when both sides want it.”

RJ Mitte at a screening event, laughs while being interviewed
Breaking Bad star RJ Mitte is interviewed by Rachel McGrath, entertainment reporter at The Huffington Post. (Photo by Tabatha Fireman/Getty Images)

Breaking into Stardom

Born in Jackson, Mississippi, Mitte was adopted shortly after he was born by Ray Frank Mitte Jr. and his wife, Dyna. He was a happy child who walked on his toes as a toddler – something doctors told his parents they would fix by the age of 4 if he didn’t walk properly by then.

A friend of Mitte’s grandmother recognized the signs of CP when he was 3 and urged the family to have him evaluated. After he was diagnosed, Mitte was then fitted with leg braces to straighten his limbs and used crutches throughout most of his childhood.

However, over time, his body became stronger through sports and exercise and he no longer needed any walking devices by his teenage years.

In 2006, Mitte moved with his family to Los Angeles, where his youngest sister, Lacianne Carriere, received an offer for a role in a film project. He became interested in film and took acting lessons, which then led to appearances on SHOWTIME’s “Weeds,” NBC’s “Vegas,” CW’s “Everybody Hates Chris” and a co-star role on ABC Family’s hit show, “Switched at Birth,” before being cast in his life-changing role on “Breaking Bad.”

RJ Mitte poses at the golden globes with the cast of " Breaking Bad"
Actors Bryan Cranston, Anna Gunn and Betsy Brandt, writer-producer Vince Gilligan, actors R.J. Mitte and Aaron Paul celebrate winning Best Series – Drama for “Breaking Bad” in the press room during the 71st Annual Golden Globe Awards in Beverly Hills, California. PHOTO / ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images)

Mitte then reemerged on the big screen in “Dixieland” – his first non-handicapped leading role. Following that, he starred opposite Wesley Snipes in “The Recall” and was also seen in “Tiempo Compartido” (an official 2018 selection in the World Cinema Dramatic Competition at the Sundance Film Festival).

In 2018, he starred alongside John Cusack and George Lopez in “River Runs Red,” and also guest starred on Starz’ coming-of-age television thriller, “Now Apocalypse,” which premiered in early 2019.

In 2020, he portrayed a disabled teen who seeks acceptance as a high school wrestler with Oscar winner Terrence Howard as his coach in “Triumph,” which was delayed because of the Coronavirus crisis. He also started shooting “Issaac,” a romantic thriller.

Most recently, Mitte turned to modeling as a celebrity face and model of GAP International’s “Lived in Spring” campaign, with his image appearing on mediums such as billboards, buses and life-sized posters in cities across the world from Tokyo to Dubai and across the U.S. He made his way to the catwalk, modeling in Men’s Fashion Week in Milan, Berlin and New York City for designers Vivienne Westwood, soPopular and Ovadia & Sons.

Cutting the Bullying

Aside from coping with his physical challenges, Mitte also faced his share of taunting and bullying as a child.

“I was verbally harassed, knocked down, and even had my hand broken,” Mitte told Brain&Life.  “Having CP made me a target for bullies, and I learned that kids with disabilities are twice as likely to be bullied as other kids.”

To bring awareness to bullying and prejudice, Mitte has engaged in public speaking and serves as the official ambassador for United Cerebral Palsy and Shriners Hospitals for Children and partners with Shriners to spearhead its #CutTheBull campaign to advocate anti-bullying for children with disabilities.

RJ MItte speaks to an audience at a runway event
RJ Mitte hosts the Runway Of Dreams Foundation Fashion Revolution Event at in New York City. (Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images for Runway Of Dreams Foundation)

Mitte has involved himself wholeheartedly in anti-bullying, through #cutthebull.

“Everyone bullies, not just kids,” he said. “I find with bullies that removing yourself from the situation is sometimes best… because a bully wants you to fight, they want an adversary.”

And if that doesn’t work?

“I always recommend to talk to your peers, talk to your allies.”

Mitte used every defense in his arsenal when he was bullied as a youth.

“Did it end the way I wanted it to end? Not always. I asked bullies straight out: ‘Why do you want to hurt me? Maybe you need help.’” And Mitte stresses that, often, you can’t go it alone, and to prioritize your own health and safety.

A Dream Sequel

Mitte has projects in the works, but one project — a dream, really — is never far from his thoughts.

He’d like to see a sequel to “Breaking Bad” in which Junior follows in his dad’s footsteps. You might call it Heisenberg 2.0. Better, more enriching, maybe, more evil. The kind of follow-in-pops’-footsteps that you don’t want to encourage in real life, but you might want to watch on TV.

And in true Mitte form, he’s pitched it more than once.

There are, of course, doubts. Could people see Junior in such a dark role? How do we make that happen? How can we keep the plot seamless and still make you a villain? There are a million moving parts.

RJ Mitte poses in front of an El Camino
RJ Mitte attends the premiere of Netflix’s “El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie” at Regency Village Theatre in Westwood, California. (Photo by Rodin Eckenroth/FilmMagic)

At this point, here’s one more thing you must know about Mitte.

He’s not big on the word “can’t.”

“I grew up with can’t not being a choice,” he said. “You can’t what? No, you’re going to go do this.”

It’s what he tells people with disabilities who ask him about obstacles. “Before “can’t” can even get out of the starting gate, just start doing the thing you want to do.”

If “can’t,” as Mitte said, is a decision, then his dream-role is just a greenlight away from becoming reality. He wants it. He’s envisioned it. He’s never stopped pitching.

Walter White Junior, sweet and devoted son, breakfast connoisseur, as the baddest of bad guys? Drug lord? Killer?

You might do a double-take.

Look again, and imagine not what is impossible, but what is possible.

Whatever you do, don’t count

Billie Eilish’s Tourette Syndrome: Everything The Singer Has Said About Her Disorder Through The Years

Billie Eilish wearing a burberry visor with long burberry nails and a burberry sweater.

By Samantha Wilson, Hollywood Life

Billie Eilish is an international pop icon, a seven-time Grammy Award winner, and she lives every day with Tourette Syndrome. Tourette’s is a rare nervous system disorder that presents with repetitive and uncontrolled movements (liking blinking or shoulder shrugging) or sounds, called “tics” The disorder starts in childhood; Billie, 19, has stated in the past that she’s had it her “whole life.” Here’s what you need to know about the “Bad Guy” singer’s experience with Tourette Syndrome:

While Billie has spoken openly about her experience with Tourette Syndrome, she hasn’t gone into too much detail. Aside from saying on Instagram that she “grew up” with the disorder (see below), she hasn’t revealed at which age she was diagnosed. According to the Centers for Disease Control, Tourette Syndrome, on average, presents in children between the ages of three and nine.

Billie also hasn’t elaborated on what her tics are, only that “certain things” can increase the intensity or trigger episodes. Fans who made compilations of her tics on YouTube gathered clips of the “No Time To Die” singer shrugging her shoulders, blinking rapidly, and looking upward. She told fans in the Instagram post revealing her diagnosis that she does think the videos are “low-key funny.”

Billie bravely revealed to her fans that she lives with Tourette’s after they started to notice her tics. They even made compilation videos of the 16-year-old, causing her to speak out on Instagram: “I would love to get this straight so everyone can stop acting goofy… I have diagnosed Tourette’s. I’ve never mentioned it on the internet because nobody thinks I’m deadass… as well as the fact that I’ve never wanted people to think of Tourette’s every time they think of me,” Billie wrote in April 2019.

“MY tics are only physical and not super noticeable to others if you’re not really paying attention (believe me, HAVING them is a whole different type of misery),” she continued. “My Tourette’s makes easy things a lot harder. Certain things increase and/or trigger the intensity of the tics. But it’s something I grew up with and am used to. My family and closest friends know it as a part of me. I’ve taught myself techniques to help reduce them when I don’t want to be distracting in certain situations. But again, suppressing them only makes things worse after the moment is over.

“Not gonna go into FULL detail but if you want to know more, I am an open book. Wasn’t planning on talking about this on here maybe ever, but it’s gotten to a point… lol. These compilations y’all been making of my tics are low-key funny even when y’all make fun of them n sh*t. I know you’re all confused so as to what it is, so just to let ya know… it’s Tourette’s.”

Click here to read the full article on Hollywood Life.

Amanda Seyfried opens up about panic attacks: ‘It feels like life or death’

Amanda Seyfriend smiling away from the camera in a black silver and blue button up shirt at a movie premiere

By Blake Harper, Yahoo! Life

In an interview with Sunday Today’s Willie Geist, actress Amanda Seyfried spoke candidly about how she has experienced panic attacks and the toll they have taken on her.

“Yeah, it feels like life or death,” the Oscar nominee, 35, told Geist when asked about the experience of having a panic attack during her “Sunday Sitdown” interview. “That’s what a panic attack is, really. Your body just goes into fight or flight. The endorphin rush and the dump that happens after the panic attack is so extraordinary. You just feel so relieved and your body is just kind of recovered, in a way. It’s so bizarre because it’s physiological but it starts in your head.”

She added, “It never goes away.”

A panic attack is defined as a sudden episode of intense fear or anxiety that triggers physical reactions despite no actual threat of danger. They are surprisingly common in the United States, as an estimated 2.4 million Americans have at least one panic attack in a given year.

Seyfried has been transparent about her mental health in the past. She began seeing a psychiatrist in her late teens due to anxiety about unfounded health concerns, and found that it helped her manage her anxiety, as well as her obsessive-compulsive disorder.

“A mental illness is a thing that people cast in a different category [from other illnesses], but I don’t think it is,” Seyfried told Allure in 2016. “It should be taken as seriously as anything else. You don’t see the mental illness: It’s not a mass; it’s not a cyst. But it’s there.”

Click here to read the full article on Yahoo! Life.

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