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Meet Deborah Calla of Media Access Awards in East Los Angeles

Today we’d like to introduce you to Deborah Calla.

Deborah, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I was born and raised in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. When I first landed in NYC, I started working as a performance artist mostly because it used my creativity in ways that didn’t exactly demanded great language skills. As I started to make the US my new home and become more comfortable with the new culture, I moved to first directing and producing theatre to eventually writing and producing content for TV and film. But, my experience as an outsider led me to have greater understanding and compassion for other outsiders. In 2005, I joined the Producers Guild of America and quickly became the chair of the diversity committee – a post I would hold for 14 years.

In that capacity, together with others, I created workshops and opportunities for minority groups to excel in the development and production of media content. In 2008, I became the CEO together with Allen Rucker of the Media Access Awards (MAA), an organization started by legendary TV producer and social activist Norman Lear and producer Fern Field. The MAA educates and creates opportunities for people with disabilities in media. We also celebrate writers, producers, actors, directors and casting directors for their depiction of the disability experience in media. The Media Access Awards continues to grow in its reach and impact. Our messaging is clear and important: we learn to coexist by what we see in TV and film.

Has it been a smooth road?
It is never easy to build a business and organization. In 2008, when I became the Media Access Awards CEO, the idea of creating complex depictions of people with disabilities was a subject difficult to broach with content creators and buyers. We started small with almost no funding. But every year we made a point to take one step forward. Today I can firmly say that we have had an impact in the entertainment industry which has carried on to society at large.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
We are very proud of the place we hold in the entertainment industry. We are the only organization that celebrates the inclusion of people with disabilities in front and behind the cameras. I am mostly proud that we also employ a number of people with disabilities to work on our events.

Is our city a good place to do what you do?
In our case, Los Angeles is the perfect city. Our mission is to create greater inclusion of people with disabilities in media so Hollywood for us is it.

Contact Info:

  • Website:
  • Phone: 310-503-3263
  • Email:
  • Instagram: mediaaccessawards
  • Facebook: @mediaacessawards
  • Twitter: @mediaAccess4all

Image Credit:
Getty photos

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