How Sea Talent’s Deaf and Disabled Creators Say No to “Inspiration Porn”


According to the World Health Organization (WHO), one billion people worldwide are living with a disability. That’s no trivial number, but most people in that demographic still don’t realize it.

This is something Keely Cat-Wells is ready to fix c talent,

C Talent is a talent management and consultancy agency that works with deaf and disabled entertainers. As a person with disabilities, Kelly wanted to make the producer economy and Hollywood more equitable and inclusive—and she’s doing so at a high level by placing talent in projects from major brands like Disney, Nike, Tiffany & Co. and Savage x Fenty. Cat-Wells’ mission is further enhanced with the acquisition of Sea Talent by influential-marketing company Whaler.

keely cat-wells [Photo: Abigail Gordon]

“Often, talents with disabilities come to us, and they will have small goals. They won’t be very big because, unfortunately, they’re living in a society where things aren’t achievable, because of the obstacles we face and those that exist,” Cat-Wells says on one episode. Huh. fast companypodcast of creative control, “So we really want to work with our talent to achieve big, big things and get them to do great things and get paid talent with disabilities and create superstars who become disabled. “

Sea Talent’s roster of influencers features Cole and Karisma Sidner, an intertwined couple who began posting YouTube vlogs of their daily lives four years ago. As his channel grew, one of his biggest struggles was finding adequate management.

“It’s funny because we were like, ‘It would be great if there was a talent agency that only had disabled talent on their roster,'” Cole says.

They decided they needed to “create this talent agency—it doesn’t exist,” says Karisma. “And literally two weeks later we got this email [from C Talent],

In this episode, hear how C Talent is raising deaf and handicapped creators where brands were falling short, and how creators like Cole and Karisma are thinking about the dreaded “inspiration porn.”

An Education-First Approach

Kelly Cat-Wells: “One of the things we always started with in the first place was outreach, the foundation of our work. We want to educate companies, work with brands, work with production companies, and help them understand that. Want to help why they want to involve people with disabilities – not only in their disability-specific campaigns or their disability-specific work, but in everything they produce and create. We also strongly believe that It’s not on our creators. It’s not on our talent to educate the companies they work with on accessibility and inefficiency. It should fall on their management. It should fall on their representatives. We haven’t seen this happening anywhere. Because people just don’t understand disability. The oppressed shouldn’t educate the oppressor. These brands and these companies, I don’t think they go out there and they’re like, We are intentionally going to reinforce these negative stereotypes and stigmasBut they unfortunately do.”

Walking the Line of Being “Inspirational”

Karishma Sidner: “I think it’s really difficult to talk about inspirational porn and be an inspiration because, just by showing our lives, I think people take inspiration. But we try our best not to be inspirational porn. It’s such a difficult balance sometimes, especially in the beginning, because our most popular video was Cole walking in the exoskeleton, standing up and hugging me. A lot of people love it, because it sounds like it. , ‘Oh my god, he got out of his wheelchair. He can stand up again. He can stand and hug her.’ The goal of that exoskeleton is actually for workout purposes because it’s good for Cole’s bone health to stretch his body and all these different things. But people just noticed the fact that we had each other. and he is running again, and only enjoyed that content for that purpose and not for educational purpose.”

Cole Sidner: “It’s good for my mental health too. I just enjoy doing that. So it’s something we wanted to share, and then all of a sudden the comments section was all, ‘Oh, you’ll be there again one day. Chale Wale Ho. It’s so inspiring. Oh, I’m sure Karishma loved that one.” And she did. But, I mean, she loves our sitting hugs too. We never intended to make inspiration porn. And I hope it’s not because it’s not our goal. Our goal is just our lives Have to share and hopefully educate some people too; and just spread positive vibes.”

With representation comes opportunity

Cove: “Our community is awesome. I think what’s been lacking is just opportunity. Open the door for us, and we’ll bust it, and we’ll do a good job, and we’ll do well for your company. So I’m more So excited to see more opportunities—not just for us, but for the entire disabled community. Hopefully that just spreads. [to] There are other people out there who are thinking about being a producer, but think, oh my disability is limiting me, No, I want them to leave and join us. Let’s get as much representation as possible because that’s what we need. We need representation and we need opportunity.

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