The inclusion and empowerment of people with disabilities has been a passion of mine from a very early age. My cousin has Down syndrome, and her father and brother are both outspoken advocates for Disability Rights in Texas. I went through film school experimenting with narratives relevant to Disability Rights; my first feature, Love Land, stands as a testament to the power of self-representation on screen for actors with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD): the performances of a leading cast with Down syndrome, fetal alcohol syndrome, and cerebral palsy earned Love Land both the Audience Award for Narrative Feature and the Special Jury Award for Ensemble Cast at the 2014 New Orleans Film Festival, as well as the Golden Strands for Outstanding Ensemble Cast at the 2014 Tallgrass International Film Festival.
With my latest film, Guest Room, my team and I set out to create an earnest and intimate twelve-minute look into the complicated lives of people with IDD: adults caught in between childhood and adulthood; innocence and sexual desire; protection and self-determination.
With Guest Room, my hope is to develop the themes explored in Guest Room within a story and setting best fitted for a potent feature-length exploration of character and conflict, both internal and external. In the short film, Amber expresses her aspirations to attend college; in Guest Room, Amber defies the expectations of her peers by achieving her goal, but soon finds that societal marks of status and achievement are not as important as she once believed. As Amber grows wary of a world she has for so long idolized, she comes to accept and embrace her own uniqueness, marking the exploration of her identity and the assumption of personal responsibility as the gateway to true adulthood.
We hope you will agree that Lauren Potter and Michael Iovine give some truly powerful performances in Guest Room that merit a feature-length showcase of their talents. I believe Guest Room stands to become this showcase, holding challenging and dimensional characters up to the task of navigating a thought-provoking, thematically rich narrative.
In helping to bring Guest Room into the world, it is my personal belief that you would be providing important, progressive leadership to the worldwide filmmaking community, affirming the artistic potential of actors with disabilities. This leadership would be timely, considering that the 25th Anniversary of the ADA is upon us this year.
Thank you for your consideration and for supporting both our film and our mission: to realize the meaningful inclusion of artists with disabilities in the entertainment industry.