FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Star of Emmy Winning Documentary Joins Forces With
Tyler Perry Studios Alum To Create Inclusive Animated Series
Star of Emmy-winning documentary “The Full Nelson,” Adiba Nelson, has joined forces with Jenée V. Giles, a former writer/story editor for Tyler Perry Studios, to develop and write the pilot for an animated series that spotlights children with disabilities as the protagonists. “ClaraBelle Blue & The Sez Who Crew” is based on the lead character from Adiba Nelson’s children’s book, “Meet ClaraBelle Blue”, who is one sassy, loveable little girl with Afro-puffs and a hot pink wheelchair. This TV pilot is currently in round two of the script writing competition The MACRO Episodic Lab powered by The Black List, which will be judged by Emmy winner Lena Waithe, actress/producer Eva Longoria, film producer and CEO, Charles King, and Franklin Leonard.
The Sez Who Crew is a rag-tag group of friends, with varying ethnicities and abilities, which they view as gifts that help make their world a better place. For instance, ClaraBelle, who is Afro-Latin, has a wheelchair that is fashioned with rocket-blasters, allowing her to fly. Johnny, an African-American boy, is deaf but uses a cochlear implant and American Sign Language (ASL) to communicate. His cochlear implant gives him the ability to hear things up to 5 miles away. JoJo has Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder and Dyslexia. His ADHD keeps him moving around, able to know the ins and outs of everyone on the playground, while his dyslexia basically makes him a walking talking dictionary (he struggles with the small words). Luann, a sweet, shy girl, with red pigtails and glasses, lives with childhood anxiety and is on the Autism spectrum. The nervousness she often feels with her anxiety often gives her the ability to “foresee” danger up ahead, but she is also learning to “trust her gut” and reel her friends in when their shenanigans get a little extreme. And then there’s ClaraBelle’s best friend, Tess, who does not have a disability, but is an empath, filled with kindness, and ready to lend a helping hug and hand for anybody that needs one.
Nelson and Giles are aiming to change the landscape of children’s television programming through the development of their animated series. “When I was shopping my children’s book to agents and publishers (2012), quite a few of them told me the content was too niche, and it just wouldn’t do well”, says Nelson. “But I didn’t understand what was so niche about a black girl, in a wheelchair, who is also silly, funny, and likes to do all the things other kids do. It didn’t make sense.” Nelson decided right then that her child, and the millions of other children in the world who identify as disabled, needed to be seen. She decided to publish the book herself and has now expanded her vision to include children’s television programming. “Children with disabilities need to see themselves represented in the general landscape of mainstream media, and it is our responsibility as the adults in the room, to break down the stigma of disability being scary for children with typical abilities. And how do we break down a stigma? By normalizing it.”
For Giles, whose middle son has dyslexia, this project was not just a chance for her to get back in the writer’s seat, but also an opportunity to represent her son in television. “I grew up a die-hard fan of “The Cosby Show”, and I always loved the episode where Theo was diagnosed with dyslexia. I had no idea that 20 years later, I’d be Claire Huxtable and my own child would be Theo, only much younger”, she says. “Our characters may be the first time a child encounters someone with a physical/cognitive disability or learning difference. For that reason, it is imperative that they not only know that differently-abled children exist in the world, but also that they’re just like them – kids – wanting to have fun and be loved and accepted for who they are.“
Final results from the competition will be announced early next year.
For more information please contact Adiba Nelson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 520.373.7563