Bravo Jenni Gold! The well known Hollywood director with muscular dystrophy’s documentary CinemAbility has captured the imagination of some of Hollywood’s brightest luminaries, and it’s continuing to do so with every premiere held.
CinemAbility officially premiered last fall on the anniversary of signing of the ADA. Many of the most well-known actors with disabilities in Hollywood attended the Los Angeles-based premiere, as they were included in the documentary itself.
One of the most well-known faces there was Geri Jewell, the longtime actor with cerebral palsy whose breakout role was on The Facts of Life in the 1980s. One of her most recent roles — a personal favorite — was Jewel on the-cancelled-too-soon HBO drama Deadwood.
Other well-known actors with disabilities were there, too. RJ Mitte (“Walter White Jr.”) from Breaking Bad, the cast from Push Girls and Robert David Hall from CSI, as well as many nondisabled actors you will definitely know: Ben Affleck, William H. Macy, Jamie Foxx, Gary Sinise, Beau Bridges, Geena Davis and Adam Arkin to name a few.
In the documentary, celebrities are interviewed candidly on the topic of disability in the movie industry, and most of the nondisabled actors admit the industry still has a long ways to go into fully accepting actors with disabilities. They know it.
Clips from prominent TV shows and films featuring disabled characters are also included in the documentary — Freaks, Forrest Gump, Edward Scissorhands and Game of Thrones just to name a few of these shows/movies. Gold has directed over half a dozen films and has a double media degree. In 2001, she founded Gold Pictures to house her pet projects and media ideas, and it’s just flourished.
But above all, CinemAbility focuses on the shameful way the media has portrayed disability in the past — either negatively or unrealistic — afraid or unwilling to show the world who we really are. Hopefully CinemAbility can hasten a change. It may surprise many people how many times we’ve been included in the media over the years …
My big wish: That CinemAbility was available online. Sadly, that has yet to happen. Hopefully soon Jenni Gold and company will make this film available online to the masses. The power it has to change minds on how important accurate media portrayal of disability is should not be wasted.