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Disney’s new film “Out of My Mind” gives a voice to a young girl who’s non-verbal

There’s been a lot of talk lately about The Walt Disney Company‘s efforts toward diversity and inclusion, and a new film by Disney has both diversity and inclusion at the heart of its storyline.

The new Disney movie about a young girl who is non-verbal is in the works at The Walt Disney Company.

The film, based on the novel, Out of My Mind, by Sharon M. Draper, tells the story of Melody Brooks, a young girl living with cerebral palsy who is unable to speak and unable to walk. In the storyline, Melody doesn’t have the same opportunities as her peers.

But when one of Melody’s teachers focuses on Melody’s capabilities, rather than fixating on how her cerebral palsy limits her, the teacher begins to encourage Melody to step into the path of mainstream education. Out of My Mind is the story of Melody’s experience in pursuing inclusivity in education.

According to BookBrowse, in the story of Out of My Mind, though she’s non-verbal, Melody has a voice “you’ll never, ever forget.”

“Eleven-year-old Melody has a photographic memory. Her head is like a video camera that is always recording. Always. And there’s no delete button. She’s the smartest kid in her whole school – but no one knows it. Most people – her teachers and doctors included – don’t think she’s capable of learning, and up until recently her school days consisted of listening to the same preschool-level alphabet lessons again and again and again. If only she could speak up, if only she could tell people what she thinks and knows . . . but she can’t, because Melody can’t talk. She can’t walk. She can’t write.

Being stuck inside her head is making Melody go out of her mind – that is, until she discovers something that will allow her to speak for the first time ever. At last, Melody has a voice. But not everyone around her is ready to hear it. From multiple Coretta Scott King Awards winner Sharon M. Draper comes a story full of heartache and hope. Get ready to meet a girl whose voice you’ll never, ever forget.”

out of my mind novel

Credit: ThriftBooks

Twelve-year-old Phoebe-Rae Taylor is slated to star in the film as Melody. Taylor uses a wheelchair herself. According to Disney, the young actress is a United Kingdom native who was discovered for the role in the new Disney movie through a worldwide talent search for the film.

“We get to make something that hasn’t been seen before: a coming of age story about a sixth-grader who is nonverbal and uses a wheelchair and who will be played by a wonderful actress with cerebral palsy,” said Peter Saraf, an Academy Award nominee and one of the Disney movie‘s producers.

Peter Saraf‘s other projects include movies like A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, The Farewell, and Little Miss Sunshine.

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.

“In Phoebe-Rae Taylor, we have found an amazing actress, and I can’t wait for the world to meet her,” said director Amber Sealey. “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.”

The Walt Disney Company said that the production team for the new Disney movie is a group of wonderful collaborators that includes people with cerebral palsy, as well as people who use augmentative and alternative communication devices in their daily exchanges with others.

Because the film is not yet in production, Disney has no release date set at this time.

Disney’s efforts toward inclusivity as they relate to children and adults with special needs are unmatched in the entertainment and theme park resort industry. Disney Parks offers the Disability Access Services (DAS) program for children and adults with special needs that preclude them from waiting in a lengthy queue for rides and attractions. As the title of the program suggests, the DAS makes Disney Parks accessible for those who might otherwise not be able to access the many offerings inside the parks.

DAS makes Disney trips magical for our family!/Credit: Becky Burkett/Disney Dining

The upcoming Disney movie about Melody Brooks and her journey toward inclusivity will be available on the Disney+ streaming service. No release date has been announced at this time.

About Becky Burkett

Becky's from the Lone Star State and has been writing since she was 10 and encountered her first Disney Park when she was 11. It was love at first Main Street Electrical Parade. Joy is blank lined journals, 0.7 mm pens, and all things Walt, Woody and Buzz, PIXAR, Imagineering, Sleeping Beauty (make it blue!), Disney Parks history and EPCOT. At Disney World, you'll find her croonin' with the birdies at the Enchanted Tiki Room or hangin' with Woody and the gang at Toy Story Land. If you can dream, you really can do it!