Speaker Lauren Appelbaum
Speaker Lauren Appelbaum

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Lauren Appelbaum

SVP, Entertainment & News Media


Lauren Appelbaum (she/her) is the Senior Vice President of Communications and Entertainment & News Media of RespectAbility, a diverse, disability-led nonprofit that works to create systemic change in how society views and values people with disabilities. As an individual with an acquired physical disability – Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy – she works at the intersection of disability, employment, and Hollywood. She regularly conducts trainings on the why and how to be more inclusive and accessible for entertainment executives throughout the industry.


Appelbaum partners with studios, production companies, writers’ rooms, and news organizations to create equitable and accessible opportunities to increase the number of people with lived disability experience throughout the overall story-telling process. These initiatives increase diverse and authentic representation of disabled people on screen, leading to systemic change in how society views and values people with disabilities. She has consulted on more than 100 TV episodes and films with 9Story Media Group, A&E, Bunim-Murray Productions, DreamWorks Animation, NBCUniversal, Netflix, Nickelodeon, Sony Pictures Entertainment, ViacomCBS, The Walt Disney Company, and Warner Bros. Discovery, among others. She represents RespectAbility on the CAA Full Story Initiative Advisory Council, Disney+ Content Advisory Council, MTV Entertainment Group Culture Orientation, and Sundance Institute’s Allied Organization Initiative.


Appelbaum also increases hiring initiatives of people with disabilities behind the camera and enriches the pool of disabled talent in Hollywood by connecting them to those who can assist with their careers, both on the creative and business sides of the industry. She is the author of The Hollywood Disability Inclusion Toolkit and the creator of an innovative Lab for entertainment professionals with disabilities working in development, production and post-production. She is a recipient of the 2020 Roddenberry Foundation Impact Award for this Lab. In 2022, Appelbaum created the Children’s Content Lab to provide education and training for disabled TV writers and creative executives interested in creating preschool and children’s television and streaming content. She produced a showcase featuring the pilot scripts of the Lab Fellows in November 2022. 

Featured in: DEI 2.0: It’s all in the details; Brainpick

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