A&E Renews Series for Third Season
Washington, Sept. 27 – Following its Emmy win for outstanding unstructured reality show, Born This Way has been renewed by A&E for a third season. This is the first time a series starring a cast with disabilities has won an Emmy Award.
Produced by Bunim/Murray Productions, Born This Way, an unscripted reality show on A&E, follows the lives of seven young adults with Down syndrome along with their family and friends in Southern California. Because its focus is on showing their everyday lives, including employment, efforts for independent housing, loves and more, Born this Way breaks down stigmas surrounding disability.
Show creator and Executive Producer Jonathan Murray, the innovator behind the first-ever reality-show, The Real World, and many other hit shows including Keeping Up with the Kardashians, credits the show’s positive message and groundbreaking vision of diversity on screen with the show’s success.
“In thinking about the show, we wanted to focus on the ability within the disability and I think that is what is exciting to see,” said Murray. “We are also very proud of the fact that our cast is very diverse. Born This Way is not only the first show to win an Emmy that stars people with disabilities – it also has a cast that includes people who are African American, Hispanic and Asian. This is a breakthrough for those minority communities as well.”
Unlike Murray’s first reality TV show success, The Real World, where the cast live together in a single house, Born This Way not only focuses on the lead cast but also incorporates their parents. While the cast all has Down syndrome, they and their families are extremely diverse.
John is an African American from Los Angeles who lives with his supportive family. He continues to pursue his dream of becoming a rap artist and entertainer but has a lot of life skills to master before he is ready to live on his own.
Cristina, who is Hispanic, currently lives with her family. She and her fiancée Angel continue to look forward to their wedding and the series shows them preparing for a life together.
Elena is an immigrant from Japan. After moving to Torrance, England, and then Australia, her family moved to Rolling Hills Estates in 2002. She now lives in Lawndale in a group home. Her mother’s cultural story is woven throughout the series.
“As her mother, Hiromi, says, there was almost shame for her for having a child that was not perfect in her society’s view,” Murray says. “It’s taken Hiromi nearly 20 years to be comfortable with that, and you see that on the show. You see her trying to work through those issues.”
In the first season, the series saw viewership trend upwards by 67 percent over the six-episode arc. It resonated particularly well with adults 25 to 54-years-old, growing 84 percent over the season. Recently, the series was chosen as one of six honorees for the 2016 Television Academy Honors, an award that recognizes “television programming that inspires, informs and motivates.”
RespectAbility, a nonprofit organization working to end stigmas and advance opportunities for people with disabilities, has been honored to consult during the creation of Born This Way and congratulates the entire team for its hard work in achieving this renewal.
Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, its president who herself has a disability and who knows what it means to raise a child with multiple disabilities, said: “Recently in the news we have seen scathing political attacks and reporting that showed a man with a traumatic brain injury being shot by police in front of his wife who was screaming that he has a disability. It has been one night of bad news and/or hostility on the news after another. If you want to see something happy, honest and uplifting, watch Born This Way‘s season finale tonight at 10/9c. I watched this episode in advance and it absolutely blew me away. I was crying my eyes out – in a good way. Unbelievable!”
Mizrahi added, “Born This Way has again made history. I am so glad that there will be a season 3 of the show because it is upbeat, decent, inspiring and impactful on TV. They are ending stigmas and advancing opportunities for people like me and my children, and so many millions of people around the world.”
Murray said it was important to not treat this cast any differently than any other cast, with the exception of shorter work hours.
Instead, he treated them “as you would any other cast member of a reality show.”
The finale of the second season will air tonight, Tuesday, Sept. 27, at 10/9c. Prior to the show, join RespectAbility for a #BornThisWay Twitter Chat: #BTWchat. Learn more here: Born This Way #BTWChat: September 27.
RespectAbility, a nonprofit organization working to empower people with disabilities to achieve the American dream, is on the front lines in the battle to reduce stigmas and other obstacles that deny people with disabilities the opportunity to achieve the American Dream.
One area of concern is entertainment; films and television can and must do much more to reshape attitudes so that people with disabilities can more fully participate in and contribute to society. We know that by putting people with disabilities on TV – in scripted television, reality TV, the news and in jobs behind scenes — it can help empower people with disabilities to achieve as much of the American Dream as their abilities and efforts permit.
Entertainment contributes to the values and ideals that define us; and what we desire to share with our children. What we see, we feel. In addition, what we feel impacts how we act.
RespectAbility encourages arts and entertainment leaders – just as we encourage businesses in every sector – to recognize the disability but respect the ability. We ask them to focus on what people with disabilities can do, rather than on what they cannot. We want the power of arts and entertainment to help move the needle of perception regarding people with disabilities so that people of ALL abilities can achieve the American Dream.