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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

I'm an enthusiastic writer who finds joy in random things like cold weather, snow, "I Love Lucy," "The Andy Griffith Show," journals full of blank paper, countdowns to Christmas, the month of December, "Toy Story," "Sleeping Beauty," my 4 kids, my 4 shih tsus, Disney Parks history, Imagineering and visiting the parks. I think Walt Disney is the standard against which genius should be measured. I love to write about Disney Parks, Disney history, all things Imagineering and PIXAR. I adore the colors, story and art direction of Disney's "Sleeping Beauty" (Team Make it Blue!), and "Toy Story" is life (minus "Toy Story 4"). I believe Walt Disney was so much more than an entertainment and theme park tycoon; I believe he was a savant with a vision for life and how it could be if happiness and kindness are strived for. I love Biergarten at EPCOT and 1900 Park Fare at Disney's Grand Floridian. You can find me croonin' with the birdies at the Enchanted Tiki Room, chillin' on the PeopleMover or hangin' with Woody and the gang at Toy Story Land. I'm always looking for Imagineers in the parks, and I'd rather meet Joe Rohde and Tony Baxter than anyone in Hollywood! Hey, if you dream it, you really can do it!