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Working to Improve Inclusion in the Media

Becky Curran

Born a little person, I have dedicated my life to helping everyone accept the differences in others. I’m one of only 30,000 little people currently living in the United States. Most U.S. citizens may not ever physically meet a little person. This means that society's views of little people are directly related to what they see on their home television screens. From The Wizard of Oz and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, to Game of Thrones, to The Little Couple, it’s a known fact that the perceptions of little people in the media has slowly changed for the better in recent years.

If an individual sees a positive media portrayal before meeting me, I’m treated with respect. A negative portrayal, however, leads to points and laughs. I have decided to only respond to the positive reactions. Those are the people who are deserving of my time. By ignoring the negative reactions, I hope people understand that rudeness doesn’t equal victory.

Growing up in Boston, I graduated high school in the top tenth percentile. During college, I had little difficulty finding multiple internships in a variety of fields. I went on to earn a Bachelor of Science in Marketing at Providence College and made a decision that changed my life.

Securing a job and a place, I got on a one-way flight and moved across the country to Los Angeles in August 2006. Once I arrived, the job as a talent manager assistant fell through. Despite this challenge, I decided to remain in LA and networked with many Providence College alumni, who had previously relocated.

Over the course of five months, I applied to more than 1,000 entertainment industry jobs and went on approximately 100 interviews. On my resume and cover letters, I didn’t mention that I'm a little person. Sadly, this resulted in many awkward interviews with nervous interviewees. Never giving up in my search, I met with several employment agencies and eventually landed a temporary to permanent position with the leading entertainment and sports agency—Creative Artists Agency (CAA).

After seven months of proving my worth in the entertainment marketing department, I was hired as a permanent employee. From the moment that I started working at CAA, I learned that I was not the only one who faced challenges while breaking into the entertainment industry. Once I got my foot in the door, however, being a little person didn’t matter. I believe in the importance of going above and beyond on every task to continue to show that I am an asset.

Eventually transferred to the comedy touring department, I dedicated two and a half years to finding the best talent—attending up to three comedy shows a night. During that time, I networked with a casting executive from CBS Television Studios. I accepted a position, where I recommended performers with disabilities, including little people, to be considered for television roles. After a year at CBS, I began to learn that casting wasn’t where I could make widespread change.

I decided to move back to Boston and launched a motivational speaking business. Since November 2012, I’ve spoken at over 100 venues—including a TEDx Talk—around the United States and Kenya. The following winter, the value of networking was shown again as I found a golden opportunity where I could have a big impact on inclusion in the entertainment world.

I met my current boss when I organized a panel of entertainment professionals, hosted by CAA. He still remembered me two years later. While he encouraged me to continue speaking, he also recruited me to join the Equal Employment Opportunity & Diversity department at Screen Actors Guild - American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) in New York City. There, I found my greater purposes.

At SAG-AFTRA, we work towards ensuring greater levels of inclusion in entertainment and news media for our underrepresented members, which include little people and individuals of different abilities. Now, most people have seen some great talent and stories shared by little people and people with disabilities in the media. A new light is finally shining and I'm proud to say that I help influence these changes for the better.

Becky Curran is coordinator of Equal Employment Opportunity and Diversity for Screen Actors Guild - American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA). Since joining SAG-AFTRA in April 2014, she has assisted with several diversity and inclusion efforts within the entertainment and news media industries. Born in Boston, Massachusetts, Curran graduated with a B.S. in Marketing from Providence College in 2006. A prolific public speaker, Curran has spoken for groups throughout the United States and Kenya. She also served as the marketing director and co-founding board member of the Catalina Film Festival.  Curran currently resides in New York City.  
 

Submitted by Kessler Foundation on Tue, 10/20/2015 - 11:57