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Guest:

Actress known for playing Esperanza on Netflix’s Raising Dion. She was born with Osteogenesis Imperfecta Type III or “Brittle Bone Disease”.

Transcript

Matt Haney (00:07):
Some people within the industry knew someone working on the show Raising Dion. Their advice to people working on the show was, “You’re never going to find an eight year old girl in a wheelchair who’s funny. They don’t exist. You need to get an 11 or 12 year old girl and have them fake being in a wheelchair, because you’re-”

Sammi Haney (00:27):
[crosstalk 00:00:27] saying that eight year olds can’t be funny and that people with disabilities can’t be funny, and that’s very wrong.

Speaker 4 (00:37):
All Inclusive, a podcast on inclusion, innovation and social justice with Jay Ruderman.

Jay Ruderman (00:47):
Hi, I’m Jay Ruderman, and this is All Inclusive, a podcast focused on inclusion, innovation and social justice.

Jay Ruderman (00:58):
When the producers of Raising Dion, a Netflix TV series, were looking for an actress to play the role of Esperanza, the main character’s best friend, they auditioned many young aspiring actresses, but when they saw Sammi Haney’s audition video, they immediately knew they had found what they were looking for. Indeed, Sammi’s sassy and confident Esperanza quickly became one of the show’s most loved characters. Some critics even called her a show stealer.

Sammi, who’s only 10 years old, is also a great example of authentic representation of people with disabilities in the entertainment industry. She’s here with us today, together with her father, Matt Haney.

Jay Ruderman (01:41):
Sammi and Matt, welcome to All Inclusive.

All right. So Sammi, let’s get to know you a little bit better. And in specific, can you talk a little bit about your disability?

Sammi Haney (01:57):
Hi, I’m Sammi Haney. I have Osteogenesis Imperfecta Type III, severe. That means I can break very easily.

Jay Ruderman (02:08):
And can you give us an example of how that’s impacted your life in terms of, you know, how do you go about everyday life with having this disability?

Sammi Haney (02:18):
Well, there are different types of breaks. One is mild, which it doesn’t hurt that much. Two is severe. It hurts a lot.

Matt Haney (02:37):
Well, give them some examples of how you’ve broken bones.

Sammi Haney (02:39):
Okay. Some of the examples are, when I was much younger, I used to break my legs while sleeping by just moving. And then this happens through my life. It never stopped. Whenever I sneeze, I break either a rib or some part of my back. That’s why I try not to sneeze. And recently, I just broke this arm, but it’s healed now. I broke it by just playing a VR video game on my dad’s phone. And then this arm, it’s healed now, it was broken by just trying to get up in the morning. I was trying to stand up and I put too much pressure on it.

Jay Ruderman (03:25):
And how does that impact your everyday life? You know, playing with friends or schooling, or even being an actress on a television show?

Sammi Haney (03:40):
When I meet someone new, I have to tell them I break easily so that they know to be careful. And I’m homeschooled because going to school would not really help because it would endanger me, and I have a lot of appointments for doctors and stuff like that, and I would miss a lot of school days.

Jay Ruderman (04:08):
So Matt, when did you first learn about Sammi’s condition, and what impact did that have on your family?

Matt Haney (04:18):
We learned about it while she was still in the womb. The doctor had done a sonogram and seen that her femur bones were way shorter than expected for the time she was in the womb. And so they did a Level 2 ultrasound, and at first, everything appeared okay, but then they did another one, a follow-up, and they found the number of fractures. And so they immediately thought, “Well, this looks like it might be Osteogenesis Imperfecta because she has so many fractures, and with her femurs being shortened as well.”

And so we went through a rollercoaster of a number of different possible conditions she could have, but they ended up, at the end of it, realizing it was Osteogenesis Imperfecta Type III. So we knew that before birth. So she had a C-section, and at the time of the C-section, she had 19 different fractures at various stages of healing. And so that was kind of how we found out, was just through the sonogram.

So we knew before she was born, which helped us kind of prepare and get involved with Facebook groups and different things where you have other people who’ve already gone through what we’re going through. And so that was very helpful.

As far as, how did it impact the family? It really opened our eyes to a lot of the ableism that’s in society. Just trying to go somewhere is really hard when you have a child that has to use a wheelchair because you never know how accessible the place you’re going to is. You have to do a lot of research, or you have to do a trip before you go just to see, “How are we going to get her in there? How are we going to get her out of there?” It just makes going places not as easy. We can’t just pack up and go somewhere without knowing what the location is going to be like. Even for some things as simple as where they invite Sammi to something, and then she gets there and they realize, “Oh, we have no way to get Sammi on the stage. The stage is not accessible at all to her.” And so we’ve had issues like that, even when people invite us to things.

I guess another way to look at it is, since we’ve had Sammi, we take her out in public, and this is before Raising Dion and before she was on a TV show, a lot of people just have trouble accepting that disability is normal and that it’s not the result of something terrible that the parent did. We’ve been just at the grocery store and someone will come up to us and say, “What did you do to make your child that way?” Or they’ll walk up to us and say, “You know, if you had more faith, your child wouldn’t have to be that way.” And just various ignorant things like that, where you just … I would have never known that people are so blatantly rude to parents with kids with disabilities until we had one ourselves and we just began to see a lot of that.

And then with our other kids, they’ve grown to be a lot more inclusive in their thinking, just to be way more defensive of people that are being picked on or bullied because they’re different. There have been instances where Sarah, her older sister, has stood up for her in public when they’re all at the Mall or somewhere. We have instances of teenagers pulling out their phones and discretely taking pictures of Sammi without asking permission, and this is before Raising Dion, just doing rude things, just not treating her like a person. And so we just began to see a lot of the ableism that was kind of invisible to us before, because we didn’t live in that world and we didn’t have to face any of those consequences. And so it was just waking up to, you know, the world wasn’t really built to accommodate our daughter, and just slowly realizing all the facets of that.

Jay Ruderman (08:10):
And how have you reacted in the past to these rude incidents when someone approaches your daughter and treats her as less than a human being? How did you react to that?

Matt Haney (08:24):
Well, the people that yell stuff at us, normally you think that they’re wanting a conversation, and so you try to start explaining, “Well, actually, her condition is genetic,” and they just walk away. They just wanted to blame you and move on. They really weren’t interested in hearing your story or knowing what the real issue is.

One of the things that I saw a lot too early on when she was younger is, if we’d be at a toy store or something and we’re just going down the toy aisle and she’s in her wheelchair, another kid would see her and just be like, “Oh,” they would see, “That’s just another kid. I want to go talk to her.” So they’d walk over and start talking to her and then the parents would rush in and scoop up and grab their child and take them away to another aisle, because I’m just assuming there was this fear of, “Oh, my child hasn’t been prepared on how to interact.” Probably good intentions, thinking, “My child has not been prepared on how to interact with a child in a wheelchair. I’m so afraid that my little child’s going to say something offensive or rude or odd, or it’s going to become an awkward conversation. So I would rather just usher them away and not have to deal with that.”

And so without really realizing it, they’re teaching their children the way that you treat people with disabilities is you just ignore them. You don’t treat them like people, you don’t get to know them. They’re so afraid of that awkward conversation of their kids saying something. And we’ve had kids that mean well and say things that could be interpreted offensively and we don’t bite their head off or anything like that. We just try to kindly talk to them and correct them if we can and move on. But I don’t know that we’ve ever really had anybody that wants a long conversation like that. They basically, if they’re rude, they just want to be rude and move on, you know?

Jay Ruderman (10:13):
So Sammi, how has all this impacted you? I mean, are you in pain quite frequently? And if so, how do you deal with that pain?

Sammi Haney (10:24):
Well, when I break something, I am in pain, but otherwise, unless my rods are moving around in there and stuff, then there’s no normal pains and aches daily or anything like that. Unless I just break something and yell out of pain. And the way I deal with that pain is … Mom, what’s that medicine called? It’s kind of orange-y and it’s a medicine for pain.

Speaker 6 (10:53):
[inaudible 00:10:53]?

Sammi Haney (10:53):
Yeah. I take [inaudible 00:10:55].

Matt Haney (10:56):
But if it’s a big break, then you need the prescription and relief.

Sammi Haney (11:00):
Yeah.

Matt Haney (11:01):
Yeah.

Sammi Haney (11:02):
It tastes bad, but I take it anyway.

Jay Ruderman (11:05):
So maybe we can talk about the process of auditioning. And Matt, maybe you can tell me about how the audition for Raising Dion came about.

Matt Haney (11:13):
Yeah, so Nikki Young, over at Morgan’s Wonderland, she used to be in casting, and so she knew people at Netflix. And Netflix was looking for someone to fill the role of Esperanza on Raising Dion, and so they reached out to her and said, “Hey, do you have any kids that go to Morgan’s Wonderland?” That’s a park here in San Antonio where, from the ground up, it’s built to be inclusive so that families can come in, and every ride, you can use your wheelchair to get on the ride. And it’s not just for people with disabilities, it’s also for their family members.

And so they said, “Do you know of any girls that you think would be a good fit for this role of Esperanza?” And she gave them three names and one of them was Sammi. And so at the same time, we got a voicemail from Morgan’s Wonderland saying that they wanted permission to share Sammi’s contact information with someone for her to do some work, but the voicemail had either cut off or cut short or something, there wasn’t really any more information. And we just assumed, because Sammi had been in a commercial for Morgan’s Wonderland, that they were just talking about doing a commercial for something similar, and so we kind of just forgot about it and ignored it, and just said, “Well, we don’t really know all the details, and we’re not super concerned about her being in another commercial necessarily.”

And then right after that, my wife was in a Facebook group about children with disabilities, it had nothing to do with acting, and someone posted in there, “Hey, they’re looking for a wheelchair user, a little girl that’s like seven, eight years old, and said she’s supposed to be a no-nonsense, sassy, smart girl who’s hilarious and funny.” And we thought, “Whoa, that is Sammi to a tee.” She’s super sassy, she’s super sharp witted, she always speaks her mind. And we thought, “Wow, that sounds perfect for Sammi.” And then we thought, “I wonder if the Morgan’s Wonderland thing was related to that.” But it seemed crazy, wild, like, “Why in the world would they want Sammi to be on a Netflix show? It seems like she’d have to have experience or something.” And so we just figured, “You know what? Let’s just go ahead and reply to this casting call and see if Netflix responds.”

So we emailed Netflix based on the casting call, the email that was attached to that, and they said, “Yes, we do want Sammi to audition for this part, please.” They sent us some scripts and they said, “Get this back to us as soon as you can.” So we spent one day practicing. And that’s when me and my wife kind of realized she may be gifted in acting, because she was memorizing her lines extremely quick. Because we’d tell her, “We need to go over the line so you can memorize it,” and she’d be like, “No, I already have it memorized.” And we’re like, “No, you don’t.” And she was like, “Here, take the paper. I don’t need the paper.” And we’d be like, “Oh wow, okay. You memorized those lines super quick. Okay.” And then we just kind of coached her to just, “Be yourself when you’re doing it. They want to see you, what you add to this script.” And so we just encouraged her to be her silly self and not try to put on some acting mask. “Just be yourself, because they’re either going to love you or they’re not.”

And so they loved what they saw and they said, “Could you please do some more?” So they sent us some more scripts and gave us some feedback on some minor things to adjust. And soon after that, they basically told her that she had gotten the part because she was the only audition tape that made everybody in the room laugh. And so they just fell in love with her. But she can share maybe the story of how she heard that news.

Sammi Haney (15:01):
I’m an elephant. I memorize stuff.

Matt Haney (15:05):
Oh, yeah. [crosstalk 00:15:07] I didn’t know why she just said that, but yeah, she’s really good at memorizing. Even when they do changes to the script, and they’ll say, “Okay, for this line, now, instead of saying this, say this,” and sometimes I’ll be confused as to what they want changed, but she’ll know exactly what they’re talking about and she’ll just whip it out and say it, you know? And so she’s really good at that, getting her lines. But she does have to practice a lot. She puts in a lot of work. It’s definitely a huge blessing, but it’s not an easy thing. She puts a lot of work into it, even though she makes it look easy. But she does put a lot of work into it.

Jay Ruderman (15:44):
So Sammi, tell me about your reaction when you first heard that you got the part.

Sammi Haney (15:50):
We were on a road trip to go visit family. And in the middle of driving, someone called us. The person who was not driving answered, and they said I got the part. And everyone in the car was screaming and yelling, and we did cut our vacation short, but that doesn’t matter.

Matt Haney (16:11):
Yeah. They had [inaudible 00:16:12] fly out to Atlanta to sign the contract almost immediately. So the vacation was cut short.

Sammi Haney (16:19):
That’s okay.

Matt Haney (16:20):
Yeah.

Sammi Haney (16:20):
We vacationed later.

Jay Ruderman (16:22):
So can you talk about any special provisions or accommodations that were made by the show for Sammi to participate in the production?

Matt Haney (16:35):
Yeah. So the first thing that we did was, I read through all the scripts, me and my wife, and we just found all the things that we thought would probably be troublesome for Sammi. Like they had her picking up a heavy backpack. They had a scene where, within one scene, there was like three different characters who picked her up and put her into a car seat and then took her out of the car seat. And so we were like, “We need to rewrite that because we’re just not comfortable with that many strangers picking her up and handling her because they could break her so easily.” And they rewrote that part. And then there’s a scene where she has to go save Dion by grabbing his inhaler because he has asthma, and she’s supposed to speed across some gravel, and we just said, “Well, we’re not really comfortable with her going super fast on this type of gravel. Can we put a pavement in or something?” And they changed that and fixed that. There was a lot of little changes like that that they were all open to. So that was the first thing.

Then I guess the second thing is, when we finally got there and they started filming … They move all the actors around in these huge vans, and this is just normal for every show, whether it’s Raising Dion or Stranger Things. They all use the same type of van, but they’re color-coded, so the red vans are for this show, the white vans are for this show. But these vans, when you get out of them, they have these very, very tall steps that are not natural. They’re just really tall steps. And then when you get into the van, there’s these very narrow aisle seats. So we were having to pick Sammi up and hold her and then get into the van, and right away we were like, “This is not safe. We don’t feel comfortable doing this, because we’re going to be doing this hundreds of times over the next couple of months and we don’t want an accident to happen.” So within two hours, they had a mobility van on set that they gave us to use for the whole duration of the show. And they actually used it in the show. You’ll see it in the show. I think it’s episode four or five.

Sammi Haney (18:34):
The show that dad was in.

Matt Haney (18:35):
Yeah. So you press a button and the door opens up in the van and a ramp comes out, and then she rolls her wheelchair in there, and there’s tie-downs to strap down her wheelchair, and a seatbelt. And so they got that for her within two hours. That was amazing.

And then obviously, for her trailer, most trailers don’t come with a ramp. They just have stairs. But they added a ramp to her trailer for her. And then every time she’s shooting, if she’s coming on set or off of set, there’s always a lot of people moving around, it’s pretty chaotic, and you’ve got people carrying heavy equipment and background props and different things, and so they always stop everything and halt everything. And they’re on their walkies, they’re like, “Okay, Sammi’s coming through. Everybody halt. Everybody clear a path.” And so they make sure she has a clear path for her wheelchair and nobody’s going to be walking around her, because we don’t want anyone to bump into her and cause a fracture.

And so they’re super careful with her. They’ve been super accommodating for everything we’ve asked. And they’re always stopping us and saying, “Hey, if there’s anything you’re uncomfortable with today on the shoot, let us know.” They’re always bringing up every situation. So they’re being as inclusive and adopting everything as they can. We haven’t had any problems. We’re really surprised at how much they’ve embraced Sammi and made everything very safe for her.

Jay Ruderman (19:53):
Well, I think we should say that this is a show where, for Sammi’s role, Raising Dion wanted to cast a young person with a disability, and I think it sounds like they really understood what goes into that and what accommodations need to be made. Even if they are not there at the outset, that they are worked in as situations develop, which is good. And I wish more shows would go in that direction.

So Matt, let me ask you, what reactions did you and your wife receive from people who watched the show?

Matt Haney (20:35):
Well, for a long time, we couldn’t tell anybody she was on the show. We could just say that, “Sammi is going to be on a Netflix show.” And it was kind of strange because we didn’t expect for everyone to assume this, but everyone we talked to just assumed, “Oh, you mean she’s going to be on a reality show or something, about her disability?” And we’re like, “No, why would you assume that?” And it just seemed odd that there’s this kind of expectation that, if someone with a disability is going to be on a TV show, then it’s going to center around their disability, and it can’t just be a drama or a superhero show or something. And I guess because she had not acted before, I guess there is the sense that, “Oh, well, if you don’t have any history of acting, you would probably get into reality TV easier than anything else.” But it was just a little bit odd that that’s what they all expected.

But once it came out and everybody saw it, they were blown away because she is a natural actor. Everyone that knew us was like, “Wow, we knew your daughter was in the show, but we had no idea she was going to be that good.” And it was just because she was so natural at it.

And then after it came out, she had a number of people with disabilities that used to be in acting and got out of acting, and after seeing her on the show, it kind of renewed their fire to do that, and they said, “Hey, I just want to let you know I’m getting back into acting because of your role on Raising Dion.” And so that’s super exciting for us to hear that because that’s one of the things we wanted to do, was to allow this to be an opportunity to get people excited to say, “Hey, I have a disability. I can act too.” There’s a lot of people that thought that door was just closed to them because they had a disability and you don’t see a lot of people on TV shows with disabilities that are authentic. And so we’re hoping this just starts a little something and gets the fire going that Hollywood realizes this, and actors with disabilities realize this; that it can happen.

Jay Ruderman (22:42):
Yeah. So we’ve done, as a foundation, a lot of work in advocating for authentic representation of disability. And most recently, NBC Universal and CBS Viacom have come on agreeing to audition actors with disabilities for all roles. But I wanted to ask you and Sammi, do you think it’s important that the roles of characters with disabilities be played by actual actors with those disabilities?

Sammi Haney (23:11):
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Matt Haney (23:12):
Yeah, I do. And what I kind of relate it to when people have trouble understanding why I would believe that is, you know, back in the day, they used to have all the white actors play all the roles and they would use makeup to make themselves appear like they were another race. And now everyone realizes that it was hugely wrong and you don’t see that happen now.

Well, it’s also wrong to take a role that should be given to someone with a disability and give it to an able-bodied actor. And I think if you look a lot of those roles that have been given, you just see the details in the script because they don’t consult people with disabilities to make it authentic; you see actors in wheelchairs doing things in ways that someone with that condition would never do it. And a large viewership of people do have disabilities and they do recognize these inconsistencies, these irregularities. And I think it makes the story less interesting, less genuine, less authentic, and I just think it’s wrong. I think that clearly, Sammi has shown that it can be done and there’s no reason for it not to be done. And so I think it’s just a bunch of excuses are given for why they do it.

I’ll be very careful about how I say this. Some people within the industry knew someone working on the show Raising Dion, and I don’t know who these people are, so I’m not trying to out anybody or anything like that, but they knew about the role because they knew other people working on the show, and their advice to people working on the show was, “You’re never going to find an eight year old girl in a wheelchair who’s funny. They don’t exist.” And so it was like, “Whoa.” To hear that that’s the type of mentality that goes around Hollywood. And the advice was, “You need to get an 11 or 12 year old girl, and-”

Sammi Haney (25:15):
That’s very ageist and ableist.

Matt Haney (25:20):
Yeah, exactly. “You need to get an 11 or 12 year old girl and have them fake being in a wheelchair, because you’re-”

Sammi Haney (25:26):
It’s saying that eight year olds can’t be funny and that people with disabilities can’t be funny. And that’s very wrong.

Matt Haney (25:34):
Yeah. And so that’s the type of mindset that Netflix was fighting against. It’s very rare that people get roles like Sammi did. I mean, what they did, and what Carol Barbee, the show runner, she’s the one who created the role of Esperanza and she’s the one that was, from the very beginning, saying, “This is going to be an authentically cast role,” they did something very exceptional there. And we want to see that become more common.

Jay Ruderman (26:00):
Well, I mean, if you look at the last three decades of men that have won the Oscar for Best Actor, half of them have won for playing a disability. So I think that there is this ingrained perception in the entertainment industry that playing a disability is good acting. Whereas what you mentioned, playing a different race or a different gender, or even sexual orientation, is no longer accepted, but with disability, you still have that hurdle.

Although I do see, from our own experiences as activists, that more and more studios are coming on board. We’re giving out the seal of approval to many, many shows. So there are showrunners who have made it a point of casting authentically, and I think they’re seeing people like Sammi are great actresses and the talent pool is out there if you look for it. So Sammi, how has playing in Raising Dion changed your life?

Sammi Haney (27:16):
Well, this was before COVID, before we couldn’t go out places and stuff. When we were in public, people would come up and say, “Oh, are you Esperanza from Raising Dion?” And I was like, “Yeah.” So I’m happy about that because I get to meet a lot more people. And this was before COVID, may I remind you; Netflix invited me to two Netflix parties. One was the Emmys … ?

Matt Haney (27:47):
Yeah.

Sammi Haney (27:48):
Yeah, the Emmys.

Matt Haney (27:48):
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Sammi Haney (27:49):
And the other was a Christmas party. And that was super awesome. I got to meet a bunch of people, dance, (singing), and stuff like that. So, yeah. It’s been awesome.

Matt Haney (28:02):
Yeah, it was pretty awesome because we were kind of nervous, we felt … Well, I felt out of place. I’m not a star, but Sammi is. But a lot of the celebrities at these parties would come up and approach Sammi and they already knew who she was and they wanted to talk to her. So we were just impressed with that. It was really amazing to see that other actors, Adam Sandler, Dave Chappelle, all came up and approached her.

Sammi Haney (28:25):
Let me tell you a funny story. So at the Christmas party, the music was way too loud. So Adam Sandler came and talked to me, but I kept on thinking he said, “Bye,” so I said bye too. And I didn’t know what he was saying, so I was like, “Bye! Bye!”

Matt Haney (28:41):
Yeah, she kind of bye-d him away, because he was saying hi, but she thought he was saying bye or something. I don’t know. She ended the conversation accidentally.

Sammi Haney (28:48):
I thought he was saying bye because he had to go or something. And I was saying bye, but I didn’t know he was saying something else. So it was very confusing. And if you’re listening to this right now, Adam Sandler, I am very sorry.

Jay Ruderman (29:05):
Yeah. Well, I’m sure he appreciates that. Matt, let me ask you a serious question. There’s so many examples of child actors whose early success had a major impact on their lives and it was not always a positive impact. How are you and your wife protecting Sammi in a way to prevent sort of the tragedies that have happened in the past with child actors?

Matt Haney (29:31):
Yeah. Well, one thing that we’re doing that’s not really a traditional way of doing it is, we don’t have a manager, we don’t have an agent. We do everything ourselves. And so we don’t have anyone that’s kind of putting pressure on her, like, “You need to do this to be a bigger star,” or, “You need to do that.” And so we’re kind of controlling all of that ourselves.

And then as well, when she’s on set, doing Raising Dion, she’s never by herself. My wife is always there right next to her. I’ve used all of my vacation days since she got on the show to go visit her on set. So she doesn’t have any other influences that are coming from Hollywood and trying to push her in certain directions. For instance, she had a major studio, which I won’t name, but a major studio, one of the big ones, wanted her to have a star role in a new show coming out, and they sent us a script and we looked at it, and there was just … Every negative stereotype you could associate with a person with a disability was in the script. And it was just really full of ableism.

And we wrote them back and said … Which a manager and agent would never want you to … This is not a good move to do, but we thought it was the right thing to do. So we sat down and wrote out, “Here’s all the things we had issues with in this script, and here’s how you could revise it or begin to revise,” and gave our own suggestions and explained why what was said was hurtful and offensive. And we never heard back from them again. But the next time that they sent out a casting call for that very same role, we noticed that they had applied everything we had told them. So they changed all the descriptions, they changed everything about it. But clearly, we had closed that door by being upfront about it.

So we don’t have anyone that’s pressuring her to make money or to take whatever role comes her way. We’re not treating this as though we’re desperate for her to have more roles or anything. We’ve had a lot of people reach out to us, and so she has lots of offers that she gets, and if it’s not right, we just decline it, because we’re explaining to her, “The most important thing that you should do with this opportunity is be a good advocate, be a good representative of the disability community.” And so that’s what we’re putting first in her mind, is, “This is not about you being famous or you making money. This is about you having a chance to be a good representative for the disability community and to make change and break down walls and break down barriers.”

Sammi Haney (32:11):
[crosstalk 00:32:11] I know. [inaudible 00:32:11].

Matt Haney (32:11):
Yeah. She hears me.

Jay Ruderman (32:12):
So Sammi, a couple of questions I’d like to end with, and then some questions from some of your fans. First of all, what’s the best part of being an actress for you?

Sammi Haney (32:28):
Well, the best part of being an actress is representing people with disabilities and helping get that out there that people with disabilities can be actors, and that there should be authentic roles for people with disabilities. And that’s my favorite part about acting, is to help other people.

Jay Ruderman (32:54):
That’s very mature of you. So a couple of questions from your fans. This is from Jackson Sanford, 24. “Do you plan acting as a career?”

Sammi Haney (33:06):
Well, yes, I do, but I don’t know what’s going to happen after I get out of college. So I’m still probably going to act after I get out of college, but I don’t know what I’m going to do after that. But I would like to be in many other TV shows and movies and stuff like that. So I am planning it as a career mostly. I don’t know what’s going to happen in the future, but yeah.

Jay Ruderman (33:36):
Here’s a question from LilyY07. “What is your favorite behind the scenes memory of filming Raising Dion?”

Sammi Haney (33:47):
Okay. Well, I don’t really have that many special effects, but the one that I do remember is the one where, you know how you kind of see me floating up in my chair, out of my chair? Well, actually, the way how that was done was … There was no green screen, none of that. You see my power wheelchair right here? Let me just … I know other people can’t see this, but I can rise my wheelchair. So I just rised my wheelchair to its highest point so that it would look like I’m flying out of my chair. So they filned that and they edited out the chair. And for the leg scene where it looks like I’m walking, I just moved my legs like I was walking.

Jay Ruderman (34:37):
That’s cool.

Sammi Haney (34:38):
So that’s how it was done.

Jay Ruderman (34:40):
So one last question from [inaudible 00:34:43]. “When can we expect Esperanza to get her own show? Hint: Raising Esperanza.”

Sammi Haney (34:58):
Okay. I don’t think that’s going to happen. Raising Esperanza. [inaudible 00:35:03] That’s the most outrageous question I’ve ever gotten through the years, but … Okay.

Jay Ruderman (35:08):
I think it’s clear that your fans love you and they want to see more of you. And I think the fact that you are authentic, not only in portraying disability, but as a person, and your vivaciousness comes across, I think people love that. I really want to thank you, Sammi and Matt, for spending some time with me on All Inclusive. It was a pleasure talking to you and I wish you a lot of success coming up in the coming years.

Sammi Haney (35:41):
Thank you.

Matt Haney (35:41):
Thank you.

Jay Ruderman (35:41):
Thank you. Nice meeting you guys.

Matt Haney (35:42):
[inaudible 00:35:42].

Sammi Haney (35:42):
Nice meeting you too.

Speaker 4 (35:49):
All Inclusive is a production of the Ruderman Family Foundation. Our key mission is the full inclusion of people with disabilities in all aspects of society. You can find All Inclusive on Apple Podcast, Google Play, Spotify and Stitcher. To view the show notes, transcripts, or to learn more, go to rudermanfoundation.org/allinclusive.Have an idea for a podcast? Be sure to tweet @jayruderman.

Follow the podcast on Instagram @all_inclusivewithjay