Born in Boston, Massachusetts, Becky Curran graduated with a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Marketing degree from Providence College in 2006, and then moved to Los Angeles where she worked for one of Hollywood’s top talent agencies, Creative Artists Agency (CAA). After CAA, she worked at CBS Television Studios, where she assisted with the casting of pilots and television series. Curran also served as the marketing director and co-founding board member of the Catalina Film Festival. A prolific public speaker and advocate for inclusion on a global scale, Curran has spoken at over 100 venues, including schools, corporations, non-profit organizations and government agencies, throughout the United States and Kenya. She also owns and manages DisABILITY In Media, which focuses on inclusive storytelling through social media. Curran currently resides in New York City where she serves as the chapter president of Little People of America chapter.
Tell us a bit about yourself
I’m a New York based motivational speaker and a global advocate for diversity and inclusion, particularly within the entertainment and news media industries, where I have worked since I graduated college. Since I identify as a little person, I’m also extremely passionate about disability inclusion in any workplace.
How did you get into this area of work?
I have always worked in entertainment and media – from a top talent agency in Hollywood, to CBS Television Studios and Catalina Film Festival. I was drawn to the advocacy work as a result of the difficulty I myself, as a little person, had in securing interviews for roles that I was fully qualified for. I was also horrified at the representation of little people in the entertainment industry, who are traditionally cast in very negative roles. A majority of perceptions of our community, whether negative or positive, comes from the media. I truly believe that more positive portrayals will lead to more acceptance towards all of the amazing little people who come after me.
Have things changed much in the past few years?
I think more production companies are open to hiring actors with disabilities into mainstream roles, not just descript roles. Actors such as Peter Hayden Dinklage, who plays Tyrion Lannister in Game of Thrones, have helped to change perceptions and acceptance of actors with disabilities. However, there is still a lot of controversy around actors who don’t have disabilities being cast as characters with disabilities. For example a recent White Paper by the Ruderman Family Foundation found that 95% of roles of people with disabilities in the top 10 TV shows are played by able-bodied actors. Production companies don’t generally build accommodation costs into their budgets and often use this as an excuse to hire someone that does not have any accommodation requests. Given that there are sometimes limited opportunities for actors with disabilities beyond these types of roles, it’s still a struggle for many. I would say progress in the entertainment industry, overall, has been slow.
What more can be done?
Perhaps if more filmmaker accessibility grants were available it would help, or a universal mandate to interview more individuals with disabilities across the industry.
People always ask me if I had a choice to start my life again, would I still choose to be a little person. I always have the same response. Yes, I would still choose to be little but I would change the way that the outside world reacts to my physical difference. Don’t feel bad for people with disabilities. Treat everyone the way that you want to be treated in return.
Tell us about your motivational speaking?
I enjoy sharing stories about possibilities. I strive to educate and motivate all people to establish goals and work hard to accomplish them. DisABILITY In Media, which I own and manage, focuses on inclusive storytelling through social media. I have also spoken at over 100 venues, including schools, corporations, non-profit organizations and government agencies throughout the United States and Kenya.
Any parting words?
Like the #valuable campaign, I believe that everyone who has the opportunity to live on this earth should feel accepted and included in every aspect of life. I truly believe that anything is possible for everyone and there’s no reason that anyone should be limited or prevented from accomplishing any goal they set in life. Everyone deserves to be happy and live to their fullest potential!
Here are some of Becky’s videos:
AO Project Videos: https://alphaomega.video/en/accounts/e1278714/becky-curran/answers
Own the Room Two Minute Talk® Video: https://vimeo.com/218237804
TEDx Talk: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=50gjmIhyg20
NYC MOPD Video: http://youtu.be/8OMogbMlxsw
And if you’d like to keep up with what Becky is doing you can follow her here: