Client: Brian Gott - Executive Producer
Disney+ will adapt Sharon M. Draper’s Out of My Mind from page to screen as an upcoming movie. The project comes from Big Beach, Participant, EveryWhere Studios LLC and Disney Branded Television. Amber Sealey (No Man of God) will direct from an adapted screenplay written by Daniel Stiepleman (Humanitas Prize winner for On the Basis of Sex).
Disney Branded Television’s take on the award-winning novel follows multitalented 12-year-old Melody Brooks, a girl with cerebral palsy, played by newcomer Phoebe-Rae Taylor who was cast in the lead role following a worldwide search.
Melody has a quick wit and sharp mind, but due to her being non-verbal and using a wheelchair, she is not given the same academic opportunities as her classmates. However, when a young educator notices her student’s untapped potential, she encourages Melody to participate in mainstream education, where greater successes – and challenges – await.
The production team includes multiple people from the cerebral palsy and AAC (augmentative and alternative communication device) community, who have been involved from the earliest stages of development.
Academy Award nominee Peter Saraf will produce the project with Dan Angel and Participant. Executive producers are Big Beach’s Michael B. Clark and Alex Turtletaub, Participant’s founder Jeff Skoll and Robert Kessel, along with Tom Mazza, David Calver Jones and Brian Gott.
Davis said: "There’s a sense of exhilaration here as we embark with this very well-regarded creative team in adapting Sharon Draper’s candid, beautiful and powerful book that tells a universally relatable story about both following your dreams and having an impact in this world. It’s also a wonderful opportunity for us to center the lived experiences of people with disabilities.”
“I’m thrilled to tell this sophisticated, coming-of-age story that is unlike any we’ve seen before and to have such wonderful collaborators in Peter Saraf, Participant, Big Beach, Daniel Stiepleman and Disney,” said Sealey. “In Phoebe-Rae Taylor, we have found an amazing actress, and I can’t wait for the world to meet her. My hope is that ‘Out of My Mind’ will be an important part of disability awareness and inclusion and will expand the conversation surrounding diversity and disability.”
Sealey is an award-winning filmmaker known for 2021’s No Man Of God, starring Elijah Wood and Luke Kirby. Her features include No Light and No Land Anywhere (winner: Special Jury Award at the LA Film Festival, Indie Vision Breakthrough Award at Twin Cities Film Festival), and How To Cheat (winner: Best Performance at LA Film Festival, Best Narrative at BendFilm). Her short film How Does It Start premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and won Best Narrative Short at the Sarasota Film Festival, among other awards. Sealey is a fellow of the AFI Directing Workshop for Women, and a participant of Ryan Murphy’s Half Initiative, the NBCUniversal Directors Initiative, the WeForShe DirectHer program and Film Independent’s Directing Lab and their Fast Track program. She will direct Nod If You Understand, a feature exploring the infamous D.B. Cooper airplane hijacking, with writer/producers Joey McFarland of McFarland Entertainment and Dawn Bierschwal.
Draper is a New York Times bestselling author and a recipient of the Margaret A. Edwards Award, a five-time honoree of the Coretta Scott King Award and recipient of the Charlotte Huck Award. Out of My Mind received an NAACP Image Award nomination, a Parents’ Choice Award Silver Medal, Teacher’s Choice designation by The International Literacy Association (ILA) and Notable Children’s Book in Language Arts designation by the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE). The sequel, Out of My Heart, is currently on the New York Times bestseller list.
The deal was negotiated by Jeannine Tang, general counsel, and Stefanie Holmes, vice president of Business and Legal Affairs for Participant; Jackie Eckhouse of Sloss Eckhouse Dasti Haynes LawCo LLP on behalf of Big Beach; and Mila Livitz, senior vice president, and Ray Caldito, assistant chief counsel, on behalf of Disney.
Sealey is represented by Paradigm, MGMT Entertainment and Ramo Law.