Sara Johnson,Julie Fernandez

Source: Adam Lawrence/David Proud

Sara Johnson, Julie Fernandez

UK film, TV and theatre talent agency Casarotto Ramsay & Associates has appointed access advocates Sara Johnson and Julie Fernandez, co-founders of Bridge06, to expand the agency’s committment to improve disability representation for the media and entertainment Industries.

Bridge06 is an agency and consultancy that supports access coordinators and disabled, d/Deaf and neurodiverse talent, as well as offering training to all areas of the film and TV industry on bringing accessibility into day-to-day business.

Johnson and Fernandez will be working full-time for Casarotto Ramsay & Associates from December 4, and will represent, train and develop talent, supporting all those with access requirements across the film, television and theatre industries.

Actress, campaigner and consultant Fernandez will lead on training and representation for the raft of access coordinators coming into the industry at Casarotto Ramsay & Associates. TV drama executive Johnson, as well as representing access coordinators, will continue her industry-wide work, leveraging the expertise and reach of Casarotto Ramsay & Associates to build change in the UK creative industries.

“Our creative industries play a significant part in reflecting and shaping our societies, and they can only do that if we have inclusive and representative practitioners working together to tell the best stories on stage and for screens of all sizes,” said Johnson. ”Bridge06 was rooted in our belief that representation isn’t difficult, but that it takes commitment and fresh thinking to enact the practical and attitudinal changes necessary.”

Casarotto Ramsay & Associates represents a range of leading disabled, d/Deaf and neurodiverse talent including Jack Thorne, Genevieve Barr, Daneka Etchells, Annalisa Dinnella, Justin Edgar, Hope Dickson Leach, Ted Evans, Julia Jackman, Rupert Jones and Rebekah Fortune.

Anna Higgs

Source: Uzo Oleh

Anna Higgs

“Casarotto has always represented the most exceptional talent in the most inclusive ways, and as such we have strong DDN [disabled, d/Deaf and neurodiverse] representation in our client list,” said Anna Higgs, who joined as managing director of Casarotto Ramsay & Associates in September of this year. Higgs is also chair of the Bafta film committee.

“Talking to Sara and Julie about their work to date and their ambitious vision for continuing to build an ’access first’ industry presented an exciting opportunity to literally put our money where our mouth is and bring these exceptional industry experts and advocates into the team.

“While some might simply host such a company, we at Casarotto felt it would be much more meaningful to fully integrate the training, consultancy and representation offer into the heart of our business.”

Access coordinator

Bridge06 was founded in 2021, as an agency and consultancy with the core mission of bringing an ‘access first’ mindset to the industry. It supports access coordinators and disabled, d/Deaf and neurodiverse talent, as well as offering training to all areas of the film and TV industry on bringing accessibility into day-to-day business.

Bridge06 has worked with the BFI on an access coordinator pilot for its Future Takes high-budget shorts programme, and has also collaborated with the British Film Commission, the 1in4 Coalition in the US, Screen Australia and the New Zealand Film Commission. 

According to ScreenSkills, an access coordinator “ensures that access and adjustments are provided so that both actors and crew members can give their best work”. Access coordinators were a key recommendation from a report carried out by disability pressure group, Underlying Health Conditions.

“Being an access coordinator myself, I know how valuable this role can be to talent and crew alike,” noted Fernandez. “Sara and I will work in our new roles as agents that strive to level the playing field in the theatre, film, television and entertainment industries. I’m so pleased to be a part of Casarotto’s commitment to ensuring that individuals with disabilities have equal opportunities.”

Filmmaker Leach noted: ”As someone with an invisible disability, knowing when, how and who to disclose your needs to is a challenge that adds more uncertainty to an industry already filled with precarious employment. I am so pleased that the importance of access coordinators is recognised and growing.”