John Krasinski's scary hit movie has a heartwarming backstory about inclusion.

"A Quiet Place" features a deaf actress in a central role and it's a huge hit.

The horror thriller made over $50 million during its opening weekend, which is especially impressive for a movie that's not part of a franchise or a comic book. First-time director John Krasinski (aka Jim Halpert from NBC's "The Office") has received critical acclaim, particularly for insisting on casting Millicent Simmonds, a 14-year-old deaf actress, to play his character's daughter.

"After we landed on the concept, we had to define how people interacted in that world. How do you survive without sound?" co-writer Bryan Woods said. "The most important part of the film outside of its concept is the family and its issues. In our minds, the issues pre-date the monster event."


Simmonds' role gave the film more depth but also brought greater empathy for the deaf community.

Woods and co-writer Scott Beck said that Simmonds casting changed the on-set dynamic, helping highlight the experiences and challenges a person who is deaf can have outside the larger than life confines of their script.

"We always had a deaf character in the script, but John really pushed for them to hire Millicent," Beck said. "She came to set and taught everyone sign language. It was really amazing and brought an extra depth to the film."

The casting is also an important lesson about inclusion that Hollywood can learn from.

Even in 2018, building bridges of inclusion is a struggle in Hollywood. It would have been easy for Krasinski to cast an actress who wasn't deaf. But in pushing for authenticity, he gave a perfect opportunity to an actress like Simmonds while also opening up his cast to an experience that brought greater depth to their own roles.

Other films have faced backlash for being less inclusive. The forthcoming film "Anything" was criticized for casting a cisgender man in the role of a transgender woman — even though the film's producer is transgender. While those behind the film acknowledged the criticism, it's just another example that Hollywood has a long way to go in pursuing diversity across all facets of production.

It's not about saying "no" to anyone. It's about saying "yes" to a broader spectrum of voices and talents.

Audiences are supporting more diverse films with their hearts and their wallets.

Krasinski did the right thing and should be commended for that. And his screenwriters say it was smart creatively as well. Plus, over $50 million at the box-office is hard to argue with.

If the last few years have shown us anything it's that audiences are hungry for more inclusive forms of storytelling.

After all, "Black Panther" just passed "Titanic" on the all-time box office charts. With his own film, Krasinski showed us how to be more inclusive and he can take all of that goodwill straight to the bank.

Courtesy of Tiffany Obi
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With the COVID-19 pandemic upending her community, Brooklyn-based singer Tiffany Obi turned to healing those who had lost loved ones the way she knew best — through music.

Obi quickly ran into one glaring issue as she began performing solo at memorials. Many of the venues where she performed didn't have the proper equipment for her to play a recorded song to accompany her singing. Often called on to perform the day before a service, Obi couldn't find any pianists to play with her on such short notice.

As she looked at the empty piano at a recent performance, Obi's had a revelation.

"Music just makes everything better," Obi said. "If there was an app to bring musicians together on short notice, we could bring so much joy to the people at those memorials."

Using the coding skills she gained at Pursuit — a rigorous, four-year intensive program that trains adults from underserved backgrounds and no prior experience in programming — Obi turned this market gap into the very first app she created.

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When she learned about and applied to Pursuit, Obi was eager to be a part of Pursuit's vision to empower their Fellows to build successful careers in tech. Pursuit's Fellows are representative of the community they want to build: 50% women, 70% Black or Latinx, 40% immigrant, 60% non-Bachelor's degree holders, and more than 50% are public assistance recipients.

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via Taber Andrew Bain / Flickr

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Photo courtesy of Claudia Romo Edelman
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When the novel coronavirus hit the United States, life as we knew it quickly changed. As many people holed up in their homes, some essential workers had to make the impossible choice of going to work or quitting their jobs— a choice they continue to make each day.

Because over 80 percent of working Hispanic adults provide essential services for the U.S. economy, the Hispanic community is disproportionately affected. Hispanic families are also much more likely to live in multigenerational households, carrying the extra risk of infecting the most vulnerable. In fact, Hispanics are 20 times more likely than other patients to test positive for COVID-19.

Claudia Romo Edelman saw a community in desperate need of guidance and support. And she created Hispanic Star, a non-profit designed to help Hispanic people in the U.S. pull together as a proud, unified group and overcome barriers — the most pressing of which is the effects of the pandemic.

Because the Hispanic community is so diverse, unification is, and was, an enormous challenge.

Photo credit: Hispanic Star

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Sure, adults can make excuses for him saying he's an "imperfect messenger" or that they "didn't vote for him to be reverend," but these are all just ways to rationalize voting for a man with zero character. What a message to send to children: Act awful and you'll be handsomely rewarded.

But what if you took away the "Trump" name and examined the character traits of him as an ordinary person? More specifically, what if your daughter came to you and said this was the kind of person she was planning to date? Well, one MAGA family found out and the results are funny, insightful and quite revealing about how we somehow hold our leaders to different and lower standards than we expect from ourselves in our day to day lives.

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