Lights, Camera, Access! Opens Doors to the World of Entertainment and New Media
By Leesa Levinson, founder and executive director, LCA!
Starting any organization comes with challenges and opportunities. Lights, Camera, Access! (LCA!) has been growing, and moves forward with confidence, increased member involvement and heightened interest from our industry stakeholders. With our program manager, dedicated board of directors and volunteer team, we are set up for success!
Currently, people with disabilities are almost invisible in the Canadian media, but LCA! is adjusting this picture. Our vision is to engage decision makers in the sector to use their outlets to advance the presence and participation of people with disabilities in entertainment, the arts and new/digital media. We aim to increase public awareness of the talented culture of people with disabilities and will accelerate this process by providing e-learning, traditional training and placement opportunities.
We are now solidifying partnerships and alliances to secure mentorship, internship and job-shadowing programs for our members. The objective of these programs, which will contribute to community building and membership growth, is to educate and empower our members with disabilities as well as people already in the industry. The benefits to all of our stakeholders involve: knowledge sharing, awareness, upgrading/educational opportunities, potential employment opportunities and guidance within the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act.
At the beginning of the year, we began developing the mentorship and internship models with industry experts. We have been very busy with research and development of content for both traditional and e-learning courses and workshops.
Our accessible open-source website (lightscameraaccess.ca) will soon reflect our recent partnerships and collaborations. It is a portal where our membership, the public, industry members and the media will be able to access the programs, workshops, information and webinars that are currently in development. Over the past year, we have experienced an increase in the number of opportunities for talent with disabilities. The LCA! database of members will encourage capacity building, while content creation and knowledge exchange begins. We are already receiving calls for casting, print, NGO and corporate engagements.
During the first week of August, LCA! was contacted by ACTRA Toronto to recruit individuals with disabilities for an opencall audition with NBC Universal. Kendra Carter, director of talent diversity initiatives; Kelly Edwards, vice-president of talent development, and Shannon Chavers, coordinator of talent diversity initiatives, spearheaded this on the NBC side. Executives from Fox, ABC and CBS also joined us for the open call. Earlier that week, LCA! members were also part of the Productions Without Borders volunteer team at a Making Diversity Matter mixer. In response to industry and membership demands, we will be providing talent-liaison services for on-camera and behind-the-scenes opportunities.
All of this innovative work would not be possible without the support of our premier partner—CTV. We are also grateful to many other supporting organizations, friends and individuals, including OCAD’s Inclusive Design Research Centre, OMDC, Heritage Canada, Dynamix Solutions, ACTRA Toronto, NBC Universal, Creative Post and Pinewood Toronto Studios. As we continue on in our third year, we are structured in our stride. Program manager Laurence Dean Ifill says, “We look forward to strengthening and creating collaborations and partnerships to further empower, engage and educate our members. LCA! programs are for youth, young adult and adult membership in digital media, entertainment and the arts. LCA! is growing within an inclusive network. Leesa Levinson has created an “out-of-the-box” service model where the community of people with disabilities can become enabled. Our present and future partners are at the core of LCA!, and it is a lifeline to the industry.”
Founded by Leesa Levinson, an actor with multiple sclerosis, LCA! is a non-profit organization with charitable status. In this creative age, the culture of people with disabilities is nonexistent in our public and private media industry sector. LCA! sees the demand and is filling the need.
If you would like more information, visit www.lightscameraaccess.ca.