The 2012 Media Access Awards, held Oct. 10 at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, Calif., broke all records for attendance, celebrity power, and recognition of media personalities with disabilities. “This was a serious Hollywood crowd,” says Allen Rucker, co-chair and writer for the event. Co-Chair Deborah Calla produced the awards ceremony.
Emcee Jimmy Kimmel set the tone with his remarks, poking fun at disabled attendees with his faux-politically incorrect jokes. Honorees included Ben Lewin, polio survivor and writer-director of the Sundance Festival’s audience favorite, The Sessions. The movie was based on a story by the late Mark O’Brien, starring John Hawkes, Helen Hunt and William H. Macy. All but Hunt attended. In accepting the award from the Writers Guild of America, West, Lewin struck a tone of humility in referring to his film as “the little movie that couldn’t.”
Ronnie Yeskel, casting director for The Sessions, also received an award from the Casting Society of America. Yeskel has been recognized for her previous casting work in films directed by Quentin Tarantino and two successful TV series, “L.A. Law” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”
Lauren Potter received the Screen Actors Guild-AFTRA Award for her acting in the TV series, ”Glee.” In accepting the award, presented by Jane Lynch of the “Glee” cast, Potter received a standing ovation, to which Kimmel quipped, “A standing ovation from this crowd [of wheelchair users] really is something.”
The “Push Girls” — Angela Rockwood, Auti Angel, Tiphany Adams and Mia Schaikewitz — presented the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation Scholarship to up-and-coming actor, Zack Weinstein. Other honorees were Shonda Rhimes, executive producer of “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Private Practice”; Phil Perry, longtime R&B, jazz, and contemporary music vocalist of note; and Katelyn Clare Reed, who received the RJ Mitte Diversity Award.