SAG, AFTRA, WGA, CSAA, PGA and others present the Media Access Awards

Your Host Dharbi Jens
Published: Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010




Host: Dharbi Jens for 


I had the greatest honor last Friday to attend the 2010 Media Access Awards. Recipients of the awards, are honored for such things as their efforts in promoting Awareness of the Disability Experience, Accurate Character Portrayals, and Non-traditional Casting.  This very special event marks the 20th Anniversary of the American’s with Disabilities Act, signed in 1990.  And, with an estimated 56 million Americans living with disabilities it’s important to bring their issue to people’s attention.  Since 1978 the California Governor’s Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities has been honoring the entertainment and media industries with the Media Access Awards.   As someone with a family member that has a disability, and all the other families alike, we sincerely appreciate the entertainment unions and guilds working together to increase employment opportunities for those with disabilities in front of and behind the scenes.  It is crucial to educate America and accurately portray people with disabilities.  It was inspirational to watch this group receive awards, and be recognized for their commitment to this wonderful group of Talent!


Several awards were given to very deserving individuals.  Here’s a list of the award:
Award #1.     The AFTRA Diversity Award was presented by Geri Jewell and awarded to Darcy Pohland, a veteran WCCO-TV reporter in Minneapolis.


Award #2.  was the Casting Society of America CSA Award.  It was presented by John Autry, Lauren Potter & Zack Weinstein and awarded to the Casting Team, Robert J. Ulrich, Eric Dawson & Carol Kritzer.  Lauren Potter, who has a recurring role on Glee, so sweetly thanked UDK for opening her doors to act, and many others.  John Autry, recently in ‘Til Death’ and Glee, thanked UDK for making his Dreams come true. And Zack Weinstein, in both Glee and NCIS, was thrilled that Disability Awareness is a movement with Ground Speed!, and, stated that UDK is unquestionably deserving! (I think so too!)


The third award,   Producers Guild of America George Sunga Award was presented by Mr. Sunga himself to Mike Tollin.  Mr. Tollin was more than grateful! He stated, the proudest thing he’s ever done was to direct his Emmy winning “Let Me Be Brave.” A documentary in which a group of 12 young adults with developmental disabilities attempted to climb Mt. Kilamenjaro. And, that his 2003 hit movie “Radio” was made because of his responsibility to honor those 12 young adults. He said working with those 12 young adults changed his life!    (We should all be so lucky)


4.     The Screen Actors Guild Harold Russell Award was presented by Mr. Robert David Hall to Danny Woodburn.  Mr. Woodburn had a wonderful acceptance speech as well, but I liked it best when he said, “I used to be told ‘No’ you can’t be a truck driver (you’re too short), OR, ‘No’ you can’t be a Policeman or a Doctor, (no one will take you seriously).”  (Ya know what he told them???) “’No’ you’re wrong, I can be all those things … I AM AN ACTOR!”  (I just love that).


5.     Next, the Writers Guild of America, West Joan Young Memorial Award was presented by Allen Rucker to Vince Gilligan.  Mr. Gilligan was awarded for his significant contribution in increasing the presence of disabled characters in our media; by including a very important young actor with cerebral palsy, RJ Mitte, to the cast of his Emmy Award Winning show Breaking Bad, for the past 3 years.  (I loved talking to Mr. Gillian! He was so nice! He and I had a great talk before the awards … I told him I definitely knew the name of his show … but that I wasn’t allowed to watch it yet).  He laughed and was glad to hear it!  


6.     The second to the last award was the Reeve Foundation Christopher Reeve Acting Scholarship which was presented by Ron Livingston to Christopher Thornton for his continued dedication to the Entertainment Industry.  Mr. Thornton shared that after becoming paralyzed from a climbing accident he didn’t stop his pursuit of acting and was continually inspired by Christopher Reeves.  Many years later Mr. Thornton is still in the biz and is celebrating the success of this movie “Sympathy for Delicious” winning Sundance’s US Dramatic Special Jury Prize. (Congratulations Chris that’s a big deal)


7.     The last award was the RJ Mitte Diversity Award presented by himself and Addison Witt to Atticus Shaffer.  Atticus is a wonderful 12 year old boy with a long IMDb list already, and stars on the ACB sitcom “The Middle.”  Despite being born with osteogenesis imperfecta he’s rockin’ the red carpet!


And that’s all of them…. It was an incredible event to take part in! 


Also,, I want to thank the beautiful San Diego CBS Radio Personality Summer James on Sophie 103.7, for making it possible for me to attend the awards.  And, leave you with one more quote from Danny Woodburn, “It will be an incredible day when the word “Disability” is obsolete.  


I’m Dharbi Jens from the Actors Reporter.  Thank you for letting me share with you the highlights from the terrific Media Access Awards 2010. Friends of Californians With Disabilities is a private non-profit 501 c (3) corporation. 
For more information please visit


Make a difference in someone’s life with disabilities.  It will change your life and theirs! 






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