Deborah Calla

Brazil Council Chair,
Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media

Deborah Calla, a Brazilian native, is a writer/producer and an activist. She is the founder of Calla Productions, an international production company working in the US and abroad in the production and development of feature films, television programming, commercial campaigns, web content, and social activism.

Since 2010, Deborah has been working towards greater inclusion of disabilities in media. She’s the co-CEO of the Media Access Awards (MAA), an organization created by Norman Lear, and is the producer of the organization’s annual prestigious award show celebrating disabilities in entertainment. Jimmy Kimmel, Marlee Matlin, Nyle DiMarco, Bruce Cohen, Norman Lear, Danny Woodburn, Frank Marshall, Jamie Brewer, Shonda Rhimes, William H. Macy, Howie Mandel, Selma Blair, Andy Sandberg, Whoopi Goldberg, Michael Keaton, and Jane Lynch are some of MAA’s hosts and presenters.

In 2019, together with Allen Rucker, her partner in the MAA, Deborah wrote a best-practices guide for hiring disabled writers with the support of the WGA’s Writers with Disabilities Committee and Easterseals of Southern California. She has also worked together with prestigious The Black List, to create the first ever Disability List featuring the 10 best unproduced scripts with a disabled lead character.

Deborah served as the chair of the Producers Guild of America Diversity Committee from 2004 to 2018 where she created several programs to educate, promote, and provide opportunity for diverse talent including the very successful Producers Guild of America Diversity Masters Workshop.

Deborah co-wrote and produced the feature film A Beautiful Life starring Dana Delany, Jesse Garcia, and Angela Sarafyan. She produced the comedy-feature Dream House starring Justin Theroux, the drama Lehi’s Wife with James Green and Kathryn Joosten, and coproduced Lost Zweig with Rudiger Vogler and Ruth Reiser. She is also the Brazilian producer of You Got Served: Beat The World, a Sony International feature film

For television Deborah has produced a half-hour program for TNT on the 500th Anniversary of Brazil, a biography series on Latino artists for HBO Latino, a series on human-interest and Hollywood stories for SAT 1 (Germany). Deborah is the producer of the first-ever, English speaking telecast of Brazil’s carnival for the Travel Channel with Terry Jastrow, a seven-time Emmy winner, for Globo International Television. The two-hour special was narrated by Oscar nominated actor, Anne Archer, and led to a second production the following year.

She is the writer of a movie of the week for Freeform, Romeo & Juliet Redux, a contemporary take on Shakespeare’s greatest love story. She also wrote the series bible adaptation of Stolen Loves, the highest rated series in Brazil for the American market.

Deborah has had three books published by Putnam and Scholastic and writes for the The Huffington Post. She has been a guest lecturer at AFI (American Film Institute), USC Film, Hollywood Brazilian Film Festival, Tribeca Film Festival, Los Angeles Latino Film Festival and Produced By Conference (the largest producers conference in the US). Deborah is a frequent guest lecturer in Jordan, Taiwan and in Brazil where she teaches writing and producing to filmmakers. She is a sought after speaker on the topic of greater inclusion of underrepresented communities.