FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
SAG, AFTRA and AEA Announce the I AM PWD Campaign
Inclusion in the Arts Media of People with Disabilities
Announcement Recognizes National Disability Employment Awareness Month
October 6, 2008 (Los Angeles, New York and Washington DC), - The Performers With Disabilities (PWD) Tri-Union Committee of Screen Actors Guild (SAG), the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) and Actors’ Equity Association (AEA), announced the launch of a major disability rights campaign to increase the visibility and equal employment opportunities for actors, broadcasters and sound recording artists with disabilities throughout the entertainment and news media – I AM PWD (Inclusion in the Arts Media of People With Disabilities). The announcement was made Monday, October 6, at simultaneous news conferences in Los Angeles, New York and Washington, DC to coincide with National Disability Employment Awareness Month.
Robert David Hall, National Chair of the Tri-Union Performers with Disabilities Committee, speaking at the Los Angeles press conference said, “I’m fortunate to have a good career as an actor and creative artist. The normal struggles any performer faces, however, are complicated ten-fold by our industry’s reluctance to include people with disabilities in the full landscape of entertainment. In the 21st century, media is the world’s common cultural environment. Society’s values and priorities are expressed and reflected in film, television, theatre, news and music. If you aren’t seen and heard, you are invisible. People with disabilities are largely invisible within the arts and media landscape. I.AM.PWD will awaken the general public to the lack of inclusion and universal access for people with disabilities by uniting with a network of industry, labor, community and government allies.”
Also in Los Angeles, SAG’s National President Alan Rosenberg says, "Screen Actors Guild is committed to inclusion of all actors, and will work tirelessly to advocate and seek visibility and equal employment opportunities for performers with disabilities as they are an integral part of the diverse landscape of the Guild membership and the American Scene."
AEA President Mark Zimmerman says, "Actors' Equity acknowledges that the growth and vitality of our collective industry is dependent upon the principles of equality, diversity and inclusion, and wholeheartedly endorses the I.AM.PWD campaign. The Theatre should, and must, reflect the true diversity of our society."
AFTRA President Roberta Reardon, speaking at the Washington, DC press conference said, “Our responsibility as union members is to challenge any and all roadblocks to inclusion and access in the workplace. AFTRA has led the fight against all forms of discrimination on so many fronts throughout our history and I am proud to be part of this important day in announcing this landmark disability rights campaign. Now is the time to stand together to combat discrimination and truly integrate our brothers and sisters with disabilities into the promise of the American Scene”
The mission of the Tri-Union PWD Committee is to serve as the means to enhance the status and promote the advancement of performers with disabilities; nurture members knowledge and skills; improve members professional careers through the sharing and dispersing of information; promote the profession as a whole; further the understanding of the profession and foster understanding and respect for the disabled performers within; develop and improve working standards and assist in the continuing development of ethical standards for practitioners in the industry.
Over the course of the three-year I AM PWD campaign, the group will outreach to the entertainment and media industries, the general public, political and legislative leaders, and to national and glob al civil rights, labor and community allies in an effort to urge the entertainment industry to open up equal opportunities for disabled performers.
Interested allies are urged to join the I AM PWD network of supporters by signing up at www.IAMPWD.org.
About I AM PWD I AM PWD is a global civil rights campaign seeking equal employment opportunities for artists and professionals with disabilities throughout the entertainment and news media. Founded in 2008 by the Actors Equity Association (AEA), American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) and Screen Actors Guild (SAG), Tri-Union Performers With Disabilities Committee, I.AM.PWD is dedicated to ending the discrimination and exclusion of performers and broadcasters with disabilities. I.AM.PWD is uniting labor, industry, community and governmental allies in the fight to combat continuing discrimination against people with disabilities. Visit I AM PWD at www.IAMPWD.org.
Screen Actors Guild
Christopher de Haan