The 20th Annual Media Access Awards united some of the top names in Hollywood on November 5, 2002. to honor media and entertainment productions, and individuals who promote the employment of, and the accurate portrayal of people with disabilities in the industry. Robert David Hall from CBS’s hit drama, CSI, served as Master of Ceremonies at this year’s event, which appeared to be the most genuine production to date.
Celebrating twenty years of progress in the entertainment industry, the event was marked by a never-ending stream of comedic banter, witty asides, a few grateful tears and many memorable moments. One such moment came when event chair, Peter Farrelly (There’s Something About Mary, Shallow Hal and Osmosis Jones) addressed the audience. After a heart-felt call to the industry to provide access to the untapped resources of people with disabilities, he returned ownership to the individuals and remind ed all present it is their responsibility to advocate for themselves. Then, putting his money where his mouth was, he announced that he brought with him a casting agent and a director for an upcoming film. “If they’re not swamped after the awards are over.” Farrelly coached. “you have only yourselves to blame.”
The ABC Television Network received the Governor’s Award of Excellence for their outstanding contribution in promoting general awareness and dignity for people with disabilities. Specifically, the Diversity Department at ABC has gone beyond what was mandated for the industry by including talent with disabilities for the net work’s projects.
Other winners included Ray Charles, presented with the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists’ Disability Awareness Award for his significant contributions in raising visibility and awareness of disability issues in the broadcast, sound recording and entertainment industries. John Hockenberry was the honored recipient of the Michael Landon Award for his lifetime commitment to the advancement and inclusion of people with disabilities in the media industry, Patty Duke, Robert Guillaume and Carrie Fisher were recipients of the Screen Actors Guild Harold Russell Award for their significant contributions to public awareness and understanding of people with disabilities through the media. NBC received awards for both Outstanding Drama Series, Law and Order: Special Victims Unit “Competence” and for Outstanding Daytime Drama, Passions.
IBM, Microsoft and SBC were presented with the ABILITY Magazine Business Leadership Award, the newest honorary award of Media Access recognizing those companies that are agents of change in technology and accessibility for people with disabilities. These corporations are actively involved in the ABILITY Jobs Network.
The Media Access Awards are a contributing factor in acknowledging people with disabilities. “We are proud to honor so many… who have made superior efforts to assist in the employment of actors with disabilities,” said Catherine Kelly Baird, Executive Director of the California Governor’s Committee for Employment of Disabled Persons. “We admire and salute their dedication to eliminating stereotypes in the entertainment industry.”
by Lourdes Hernandez