A visit to the set of Speechless was part of the Disney hosted #MoanaEvent.
Whenever I visit a television set, there’s usually something very specific that I’m dying to see. That was certainly the case when we visited the set of Speechless. Behold: the “Dead to Maya” wall. It’s a thing of beauty, and if they ever think about painting over it, I hope someone talks them out of it immediately.
Our visit to the set started with a chance to chat with Scott Silveri, creator and executive producer of Speechless. The show is loosely based on Scott’s own family, including his brother who has cerebral palsy. “This is not my story or my brother’s story. What’s important to me is to capture a couple of elements about the time we had growing up.” He considers the show a love letter to his mom and dad, to celebrate how they banded together to make their family work. “This is not a documentary about my childhood, but it really is meant to be a loving depiction of the choices they made that I celebrate.”
Creating a show with a lead character who has a disability created unique opportunities. “Is this a character that would exist on TV independent of disability, independent of the wheelchair? That was the litmus test,” says Scott. “Once he has an attitude and he has agency and he has things that he wants? Okay, that’s somebody that’s worth writing for. But if it was simply defined by a wheelchair? That’s telling a story I didn’t want to tell.”
The team is working hard to get this right. “We’re talking with people. We’re talking with parents, moms of kids like this. We’re talking to kids like this. We’re talking to families. We have a partner in the Cerebral Palsy Foundation where we run ideas by them. We are doing our homework. I can tell you our hearts are in the right place.”
During our visit we also had the chance to meet with the entire cast, including Micha Fowler, who plays JJ. He’s ridiculously charming and made a point to thank everyone for their support of the show.
Mason Cook, who plays Ray, and Kyla Kenedy, who plays Dylan, also stopped by to visit. Yes, Kyla is wearing a cast-and we found out it wasn’t a prop for the show!
John Ross Bowie, who plays Jimmy, and Minnie Driver, who plays Maya, visited with us, too. Even though we were there to talk about Speechless, John humored us by talking a bit about Big Bang Theory, too. (Kripke will continue to show up from time to time and will be even more horrible than ever.)
I’m a huge fan of Cedric Yarborough, who plays Kenneth, so I had to ask if we’d see him sing again in any upcoming episodes. He said to keep an eye out for the upcoming Christmas episode!
And speaking of upcoming episodes, catch an all new episode, R-A-Y-C RAY-CATION, tonight, November 30! Speechless airs Wednesdays at 8:30/7:30c on ABC.
Maya enlists the family to assist JJ in romancing a girl at school, but it backfires when JJ expresses his feelings to Claire, and they are not reciprocated. Meanwhile, as the DiMeos are always late, Ray has the family practice to get to school in time for his upcoming weekend field trip.