Disabled Lives Matter
Season 1, Episode 1, Part 1
Co-Hosts: Nadine Vogel & Norma Stanley
Guest: David Renaud, award winning writer and producer, aspiring musician and father of two.
Intro: [Music playing in background] Disabled Lives Matter... here we go!
Voiceover: Hello world and welcome to the first episode of the disabled lives matter podcast with co host Nadine Vogel and Norma Stanley..yay!
Nadine Vogel: norma Stanley yay so I'm Nadine, and I am so excited to be here because disabled lives matters more than just a podcast. It is a global movement, or at least it's going to be each week we are going to interview individuals who have disabilities or in the disability community to hear how they positively impact and contribute to society. Norma i'm so glad you're here with us.
Norma Stanley: Thanks Nadine I am so excited to be a part of disabled lives matter podcast and i'm so looking forward to meeting and hearing the wonderful stories that are going to be shared, by some of the amazing guests that are going to be part of our podcast.
Nadine Vogel: Well, I gotta tell you wonderful and amazing are two perfect words for today's guest David Renaud. David is a former medical doctor.
That in of itself pretty cool but he's also the producer on the Humanitas Award-winning and Golden Globe nominated ABC series The Good Doctor. And if that's not enough, he has also He has also written on the CBS medical drama Pure Genius and the ABC primetime soap Blood & Oil. He is now developing a medical drama for ABC with Sony pictures that I keep trying to get more information about, but so far not too much, but we'll keep trying, maybe tonight. David was born and raised in Canada, and I believe David when you were that 19 or so had a car accident which left you paralyzed if I recall, yes.
David Renaud: right that is right Thank you so much for having me i'm very excited to be here and i'm excited about what you're doing. Yes, so in when I was 19 I I was driving in in rural Ontario in Canada, in a bad snowstorm and I had a rollover and I became paraplegic. So before that moment in my life I had never really had very much experience with anyone with a disability, so my first real experience with a person with a disability, except obviously i'd had experiences with people with disabilities but I didn't realize, I was having those experiences. So my first real experience with the person with a disability was my own, and it was a real obviously. It was a shocking thing for me in many ways, becoming paraplegic, but it was also a culture shock for me. That was a big culture shock realizing that I was now a part of a new Community that I didn't really even know existed and then at that time hadn't really coalesce to form a community. You know people were just thinking of themselves as infirmed or sick or r blind or deaf or paralyzed as all sort of separate communities people dealing with. With their own struggles and with their own cultural differences and and I became a part of that sort of Community that has since really burgeoned into a group of people were all kind of working together, which is exactly what your podcast reflects which I love.
Nadine Vogel: absolutely you know. We we wanted to model this off to the black lives matter movement because it is a movement and it's to show that everybody's lives matter and we've been saying that all along, but people don't always listen so much and and you know they pay attention to what they want to pay attention to when they want to pay attention to it. But when we think about lives mattering it's about how we represent these individuals right how we represent them in media how we resent represent them in all walks of life. And you and I have had this conversation about you know whether it's behind the camera or in front of the camera this authentic representation is so key to everything we do so, I wonder if you could talk a little bit about that.
David Renaud: yeah yeah Firstly I just I do love this notion of, and I know a lot of people have sort of been very inspired and excited about the black lives matter movement and and But I think what's really. You know, and people have often tried to sort of negate the movement by saying all lives matter blue lives matter you know. And, and what what where I think it's actually applicable in this case, and not in those cases, is that we all know, black lives matter. We all know, you know because plenty of people are being if a if a white person gets you know shot by a cop, we're well aware of that, you know that happens much rarer but, when it happens we're well aware of the quote unquote tragedy of that, and what I think is similar here is that the black lives matter movement is really about people who had been saying something for a long time, and not being heard. And for a long time that community has been saying we are afraid of the police we're afraid to send our sons and daughters out to school out in the street to walk around on the street, to go out in society to drive a car for for the love of all that's holy okay. Because they're afraid that they're going to get shot or killed by the people, who are there to supposedly protect us.
Nadine Vogel: Right.
David Renaud: and no one's listening and now here, I am in my apartment in L.A. you know, in April and May of this year and i'm hearing people making a lot of noise and and i'm seeing the faces in those crowds and they are not just black people.
Nadine Vogel: Right.
David Renaud: they're white people Latinos know every every every part of society, and let me tell you, people with disabilities are out there,
Nadine Vogel: Yes.
David Renaud: everybody's there, and people are listening because The because people are finally ready to hear this message, and this is a movement that has had the power to to basically turn a republican President democratic. Without the vote of the black lives matter people in that movement you wouldn't have Joe Biden sitting in the White House, right now, so that's a powerful thing. And I think people with disabilities are starting to want to be heard to we've always wanted to be heard that's not fair, I think we're ready to make people listen. And been inspired by what the black lives matter movement has been able to do and continues to do and continues to struggle to do. we're early in our our movement sorry. we're early in our in our movement, but I do i'm very excited by the energy and the disabled community and the fact that disabled communities kind of coalesced itself together and a few of these organizations that i've become very aware of over the last few years, the more sort of prominent I become the more organizations have sort of reached out to me and i'm excited to be part of that. And to see, like so many people getting together and working together. So so yeah i'm very excited i'm excited about this notion of disabled lives matter I mean. i'm excited about the comparison I don't think it takes anything away from the black lives matter movement in fact I think you know, we have some of the exact same goals and agendas. Not all but some of the exact same goals and agendas and as everyone knows, there are many, many black and Latino and Latina X and every other. race and culture and religion represented in the disabled Community we're. Definitely a small society.
Nadine Vogel: Right well you know you you touched on, you know police brutality and things like that and norm and I were just talking, the other day that you know just as many people who are disabled succumb to police brutality, as people in the black and brown community but nobody's talking about.
Norma Stanley: that's what i'm saying. that's right.
David Renaud: Absolutely people with autism that friend yeah I mean mental absolutely absolutely again, we have some shared you know it's interesting many great movements in history have have often been many groups. of people who, on their own can't be heard, but get together and all the sudden their voice is just so loud, you know, and I do, I was very excited I was on a.panel this just this week a TCA panel which is is the television critics association panel and Disney had put together a panel talking about inclusion and. You know, it was really about inclusion in the meat in media and how we're representing all kinds of diverse voices in the writers rooms and onset and one of the things I brought up in that panel was disability. Because it's something people don't talk that much about.
Nadine Vogel: Right.
David Renaud: but are talking about it now Disney particularly is very been very, very supportive working with RespectAbility and i've done a lot of work with them mentorship with them. But but absolutely you know, working together with other diverse communities reflecting that we're having the same struggles and the same challenges we have the same wants, and the same as ours, and the same potential.
Nadine Vogel: Right. Right. Absolutely, and you know. You and I have had this conversation that the media is so powerful the entertainment industry is so powerful in getting messages across. But it has to be authentic messages right authentic representation So how do we ensure that the authenticity is there because I think otherwise. It takes away some of this disabled lives matter because we're not using people with disabilities in these different roles I don't know what your thoughts are about that.
David Renaud: yeah I feel very strongly about, I think, look over time, you know, there was a time when. You know that people wanted, if you wanted to have a Latino character, or a black character on a movie or TV show you they did blackface.
Nadine Vogel: Yeah.
David Renaud: yeah okay.That I mean that would be preposterous now.
Nadine Vogel: Yeah right.
David Renaud: Right, I mean that would be I mean I can't even imagine.
Norma Stanley: That would be trouble making if they did that today.
David Renaud: I would be insane right, but yet still you know, to this day we see people with disabilities. represented by everybody people make you know and film themselves now, arguably, you know you can say well there's not the talent there's not. If we can get a big bankable star we're much more likely to have a successful story, and to some extent I agree when you're just trying to get those initial stories out there and say hey we're here. we're a Community people want to hear our stories we want to tell our stories then whatever way, we can get it we're happy to get it, but I think now we're we've in the last couple years we've had some wonderful success in that regard. and I think now we're ready for is exactly what you said, which is authenticity and and authenticity means us telling stories that only we can tell. we need to be the people writing those stories we need to be the people weighing in it's not just enough to say. I am writing a show that has a lot of you know Latino characters so we have a Latino consultant, you know. You want to have a writer's room that has voices in that room that are reflecting the stories you're trying to tell.
Nadine Vogel: right.
David Renaud: Right and and I think that's absolutely 100% truth disability, I think we need disabled writers disabled actors disabled crew disabled tumor talkers disable directors disable producers.
David Renaud: You know, we need executive producers, we need people in control of those stories we need people who recognize what is an authentic disability story
Nadine Vogel: right absolutely.
David Renaud: Absolutely absolutely experience.
David Renaud: How can you know what what a real disabled story is what a real disabled voice is what that looks like you know we've had so many wonderful shows in the last you know 10 years that really give us a window into different cultures. they're told by writers of those you know, one of my wonderful writers I love is shonda rhimes you know she tell amazing stories and in a way that it's just so unique to her who she is as a person. And, and you know what. I feel like we have those stories to tell ourselves.And you know, there are many I can cite many examples of different. People from different diverse backgrounds were telling they're starting to tell their stories now.
Nadine Vogel: Right.
David Renaud: I don't think it's equitable in any way, shape or form, I don't want to apply that but. What i'm saying is it's exciting to see those stories because of their authentic and they feel real and you feel like you're getting a window into. To something interesting in new either that you can relate to because it's your story too, right, or that you haven't really seen in that way, so that's an exciting thing to watch and and I think that should be true of disabled stories.
Nadine Vogel: yeah no absolutely norma you, you had a question I think about you know the disability narrative right and and how that works, did you want to ask David about that.
Norma Stanley: Well yeah I am you know I agree with everything you said, and you know, one of my missions is to make sure that we heighten the visibility of people. In the Community who have disabilities who are doing some amazing things that's the same thing that with a Nadine wants to do, and you know in regards to. The disability narrative you know, could you kind of share how important it is to you to make sure you send a little bit about the authenticity, but as a leader and as somebody into a particular profession. You know what would you like to see how would you like to see the narrative be you know displayed and shared moving forward.
David Renaud: thanks for that question Norma for me it's it's it's really you know, there are, when I was first disabled and I watched TV, most of the characters that I saw on TV were either the butt of a joke. or they were an inspirational story something to tug our heartstrings you know we we were used. As people to go oh my God what a horrible situation this person is in how do we save them and make them normal again and the happy ending is they get normal you know. They get cured of their disability or order it's a joke you're you're a joke, you know your property in a joke, and some very funny you know movies, that I laughed at and enjoyed looking back at them now to this new lens that I have as a person with a disability, I go how really. What a low opinion and without what a terrible narrative we've created for people with disabilities.This is, and you know what I know of the people that I know with disabilities is, they are a. Big broad.Interesting eclectic group of people with wonderful skills wonderful senses of humor of their own, which has a totally different. shape to it than the kind of humor that i've seen portrayed in disability very early on in my in my experience and and and people capable of amazing things with amazing potential. And it might not be potential they're able to reach because narratives have been created again in the way called stereotypes and you know many diverse communities are used to trying to navigate a world where they're faced with these destructive stereotypes. So I don't when I tried to tell disabled stories I don't lean into that stuff now I go the opposite, I tried to tell the stories that I see happening with the people that I know. You know I told a story about you know, on the good doctor about a little person, a person with a pseudoacondroplasia. who had two girlfriends.
Nadine Vogel: Yep.
David Renaud: that was based on an experience of person with the disability that I knew and that's not a stereotype that you commonly think of when you think disability, that there are ladies man.
Nadine Vogel: Right.
David Renaud: You know. So yeah breaking the mold creating a narrative that you can be successful that just because you don't talk the same walk the same sound the same see the same that you are capable of amazing, and you know and wonderful things just like anybody else right.
Nadine Vogel: Exactly absolutely well on that note we're gonna move to commercial break and when we come back we're going to hear more from David Renault and all the incredible things he's doing and why he's doing it and the impact it's having on all of us.
Commercial Break: Hey, have you heard about the Disability Matters Conference & Awards program. It takes place annually in North America, Europe, and Asia-Pacific. If you are a corporate employee who supports and engages people with disabiloties this is the confrence for you. To learn more visit consultspringboard.com and visit the events section. I hope to see you there!
Nadine Vogel: hello, this is nadine vogel and i'm joined by Norma Stanley my co-host this evening with the fabulous the famous David Renaud and we are talking about, we have been talking about the media and its impact. And I want to really hone in now David if we can on this issue of if someone's lives someone's life matters, the way you show that is by including them and giving them access, my concern is that when we look at the inaccessibility whether it's digital physical I mean all kinds. I feel like we're saying that the likes and don't matter and that's very upsetting and unsettling to me i'm wondering what your thoughts are on that.
David Renaud: yeah I have very strong feelings about this. As you can see, have strong feelings about a lot of things, I guess, but it is a particularly one that that that I think we need to really, really take a look at how we think about. Because I think we, when we think about you know accessibility in society, often what we think about is wheelchair ramps or stoplights that talk, you know. I think we think about accessibility as modifying the existing infrastructure, so that people with disabilities can get into. And really what we should be talking about is universal access because universal access assumes that everybody is going to need to come into a building. We all need access to that building so it's designed in a way that allows everybody in. And that's true physically, you know I don't think I should need to go through the kitchen to get into a restaurant because that's where the ramp is. And I also don't think I should have to bear the humiliation of sitting in front of a flight of stairs well somebody goes to the back and gets a ramp that hasn't been used or gets an elevator that they can't find the key for so that I can go through this humiliating attention drawing. display of trying to get into a building physically. So universal access, I mean we essentially when we build a building we create a barrier to people with disabilities, when we design it. We build it that my house has no stairs to get into it here, it is possible to build a house with no stairs. And I have no problems with no stairs I don't have water leaking into my front door, I have a perfectly fine home that has no stairs yet still to this day. We build buildings every day that have stairs and then we build these elaborate ramps etc to get into them and i'm just talking about physical access for somebody.
Nadine Vogel: Right.
David Renaud: Now people have all kinds of challenges for accessing society that we don't take into consideration that would be easy if we inconvenienced ourselves for a little bit. And thought about how do we make this universally accessible to everybody. Now that what a huge barrier, that is, if you want to get into a job in a writer's room i'm just talking very specifically about the twofer i've had between medicine and writing. You want to get into a writers room or you want to go, and you know do an internship in a clinic like I did when I was starting out as a medical doctor that's on the third floor. of a building the no elevator wow I going to do that i'm gonna i'm going to be carried up those stairs and when you watch your doctor carried up those stairs how confident, are you gonna feel. Having watched them carried up the stairs so. And that's true of you know, when I want to go and take an interview and take a meeting on a show and that show is in a two story building with no elevator. so and that can be said for any industry anywhere, then england's trying to break, if you want to be a pilot or you want to be an astronaut, or you want to work in you know in as a food service. person whatever you want to do, you need access, so I think that's The first thing is to stop letting ourselves off so easily as a society by saying you know what we. We don't have a responsibility to just design it this way we'll just retrofit everything let's just let's not make us bear. Now i'm just about to get into something i'm really passionate about. let's let's shoulder the burdens of society that doesn't want to be inconvenienced
Nadine Vogel: Right. right.
David Renaud: We can and we'll talk about the pandemic in a minute when it comes to that, but but but yes, now that access also comes to you know people with you know learning differences people you know with mental health issues where we create barriers, by the way we interview people for jobs. I process of applying for work, by the way, you know meetings are conducted, you know, there are all kinds of you know we there was a writer that I. Was got had the pleasure of getting to know through the Disney program who is hearing impaired so when you go into a writers room and you're hearing impaired. Now this writer can read lips, thankfully, but that's that's the challenge to go into a writers room everyone's talking really fast right to say well it's going to be too hard so. We really can't have very we'd love to have great to have that writer, but we can't because it's going to be too difficult or do you rethink how you run your room how you run your show have to make sure that anyone can come and do that job so removing barriers.
Nadine Vogel: Ladies and gentlemen, I know we had promised to keep these podcasts to about 30-minutes, but this conversation with David Renaud has been so important. And, and, I just can't let it go. So what we're going to do is make this a very special two part and so stay tuned as our second show will be welcoming David back once again to hear about the amazing work that he's doing and his commitment, not only as someone with a disability, but someone committed to people with disabilities. To show that disabled lives do matter. We'll see you next week.
Closing comment: [Music playing in background.] Thank you for listening to this week's episode of disabled lives matter. We look forward to seeing you next thursday. Have a great week!
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