Entertainment Pros for October’s National Disability Employment Awareness Month

Held each October, National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) is a national campaign that raises awareness about disability employment issues and celebrates the many and varied contributions of America’s workers with disabilities. The theme for 2013 is “Because We Are EQUAL to the Task.”


NDEAM’s roots go back to 1945, when Congress enacted a law declaring the first week in October each year “National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week.” In 1962, the word “physically” was removed to acknowledge the employment needs and contributions of individuals with all types of disabilities. In 1988, Congress expanded the week to a month and changed the name to “National Disability Employment Awareness Month.” Upon its establishment in 2001, ODEP assumed responsibility for NDEAM and has worked to expand its reach and scope ever since.


Bridging the gap between the disabled world and the planet of entertainment is  the “40 Series” workshop.



                      “40 SERIES” & MEET THE BIZ


Danny Woodburn David Zimmerman

Actor Danny Woodburn(Seinfeld, Watchman), David Zimmerman (Meet The Biz),

Actress Shannon Dieriex (Shameless)


“Who’d think a woman in a wheelchair sitting in a workshop eight years ago would passionately came back to life and successfully enter back into the entertainment arena booking commercials, movies, music videos and starring and producing my own docu-series ‘’Push Girls’’ for Robert Redford’s Sundance Channel.” -Angela Rockwood, Actor / Producer / Ambassador


Each class will explore different areas of acting, including but not limited to: scene study, monologues, improv, connection, cold reading and learning from the pros.


Every month Meet The Biz brings together top notch people in the entertainment industry. These workshops are not just for actors, they are for everyone in the industry to meet with and to learn from one another.


Meet The Biz is looking to make acceptance of diversity common place. By bringing the producer, director, actor, writer, editor, technician, casting director, agent, teacher, life coach, ability, disability together, we become more well rounded as artists.


Talent includes:  Dana & Christopher Reeves Foundation Ambassador Angela Rockwood (Star/Producer of Sundance Channel’s Push Girls),  Lauren Potter (Glee), RJ Mitte (Breaking Bad), Geri Jewell (The Facts Of Life, Deadwood), Jamie Brewer (American Horror Story, Southland), Mark Povinelli (Boardwalk Empire, Modern Family) and any of the established industry pros.


“Actors with disabilities are more capable than what the industry expects and how the media represents.” -Dr. Alisa Wolf, Founder of Actors For Autism
“I don’t see disability, I only see the ability in all.”  -David Zimmerman, Casting Director / Founder of Meet The Biz


Angela Rockwood – Actor/Producer (PUSH GIRLS) / Ambassador

Angela-RockwoodAngela grew up all over the world as the child of a career military man. She started modeling at the age of 17 and by 22, she relocated to Los Angeles, where she launched an acting career.  Angela became paralyzed in an automobile accident on September 3, 2001, she was diagnosed as a c4 quadriplegic.


As an Ambassador for the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, Angela represents the Paralysis Resource Center in outreach to Asian-American communities. She serves as a spokesmodel for Ti-Lite Wheelchairs and also works as a model for clients such as Target and Nordstrom. Angela has also appeared on television shows such as Entertainment Tonight and Larry King Live discussing life after her accident. She has picked up her acting career by landing two national commercials for AARP and Sony. Angela is also featured in CinemAbility, a documentary to be released in 2013, directed by Jenni Gold, which includes Ben Affleck, Jaime Foxx, and Jane Seymour.


David Zimmerman – MEET THE BIZ’s “40 SERIES”

David Zimmerman Headshot Bennington“Over 15 years ago, I was invited by my friend Mary Rings (founder of the Born To Act Players) to one of her Saturday workshops.  On that day, I realized I had found my extended family.”  Born To Act Players (BTAP) is a mixed group of actors consisting of those with Down syndrome and other developmental disabilities.  David became a part of BTAP for over 10 years and during that time he began teaching his own acting classes at the California state run Media Access Office, a cornerstone of the “disability” community for 30 years.


In 2007, David was honored with the prestigious Media Access Award at Universal Studios Globe Theatre along with Norman Lear, Stevie Wonder, and Linda Bove.  And in 2008, the classes had evolved into workshops called Meet The Biz, where Industry pros would not only come to share their knowledge, insight and training,  but work one on one with the actors in scenes, improv, cold reading, connecting exercises, etc.   Last December, the State shut down the Media Access Office.   Inspired by the work that was being done, David continued the classes at Joey Travolta’s Inclusion Films studio, Performing Arts Studio West, Actors for Autism and even at the home of Angela and Dustin Nguyen, the Ambassadors for the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation.”



Alisa_headshotDr. Alisa Wolf is a Television & Media Consultant, Author, Educator, and Producer.  Dr. Wolf consults with studio executives and film-makers to educate them on developing diverse programming in both film and television.  In addition, she coaches actors with disabilities on set, specifically autism. The nonprofit organization is comprised of individuals in the entertainment industry who are dedicated to the advancement, education and exposure of people on the autistic spectrum. For more information go to www.actorsforautism.org.


Her most recent film, “Kids With Cameras”, Dr. Wolf collaborated with veteran film producer, Alex Rotaru. The film is being distributed worldwide and highlights kids with autism making animated short films. www.kidswithcamerasmovie.com

As an author, Alisa wrote “Acting: for Kids on the Autistic Spectrum” and “Social Skills Scenebook: for Kids on the Autistic Spectrum.  These books are one of kind which instructs how to address communication and socialization skills to children and adults on the autistic spectrum.


Alisa has produced, written and directed public service announcements, interviews, and short films for Actors for Autism, a non-profit organization.


As an arts educator she has developed curriculum and implemented programs in the area of acting, film-making, animation, and video game design integrating digital media. She created a social skills program for individuals with disabilities which incorporates the arts.  Alisa has made appearances on television, film and radio.  She is a guest speaker at universities and conferences and is available for speaking engagements and consulting.


Organizations Include:  Recipients of both 2013’s Dana & Christopher Reeves Foundation “Quality Of Life” Grant and Friends Of Californians With Disabilities, Inc Grant, national organization Actors For Autism and Media Access Award Winner/Casting Director, David Zimmerman’s Meet The Biz have joined together to create the “40 Series”, a year long workshop that caters to both disabled and able bodied artists lead by 40 Entertainment professionals (disabled and abled) teaching, lecturing, sharing their talents and insights in 25 workshops throughout the year (Oct.2013-Oct.2014).  For more information go to http://www.meetthebiz.biz/40series/




One Response to Entertainment Pros for October’s National Disability Employment Awareness Month

  1. These people are my idols.. I am so blessed to be able to call them my friends. Not only are they inspirations to everyone they meet, but they are extremely talented!! I am honored to be a part of watching them all fullfill their amazing destiny! Congrats my friends! We love you!

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