Sharon M. Draper’s best-seller “Out of My Mind” is being adapted into a TV movie, Ayo Davis, president of Disney Branded Television, announced on Wednesday.
Big Beach, Participant, EveryWhere Studios LLC and Disney Branded Television are behind the adaptation for the Disney+ streaming service.
After a worldwide search, newcomer Phoebe-Rae Taylor has been cast as the lead in the film, which is being directed by Amber Sealey (“No Man of God”).
Taylor will star as 12-year-old Melody Brooks, a girl with cerebral palsy, who has a quick wit and a sharp mind, but who is not given the same academic opportunities as her classmates due to her being non-verbal and using a wheelchair.
“There’s a sense of exhilaration here as we embark with this very well-regarded creative team in adapting Sharon Draper’s candid, beautiful and powerful book that tells a universally relatable story about both following your dreams and having an impact in this world,” Davis said in a statement. “It’s also a wonderful opportunity for us to center the lived experiences of people with disabilities.”
Peter Saraf will produce along with Dan Angel and Participant. 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. The screenplay is from Daniel Stiepleman.
“I’m thrilled to tell this sophisticated, coming-of-age story that is unlike any we’ve seen before and to have such wonderful collaborators in Peter Saraf, Participant, Big Beach, Daniel Stiepleman and Disney,” Sealey said in a statement. “In Phoebe-Rae Taylor, we have found an amazing actress, and I can’t wait for the world to meet her. 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.”
“’Out of My Mind’ advances Participant’s mission of reaching audiences with incredible stories that celebrate difference and challenge preconceived notions about ability,” Robert Kessel, executive vice president of Narrative Film at Participant, said in a statement.
“We are thrilled to work with Disney and the outstanding creative team to bring this story to life.” Saraf said in a statement. “Bringing a story that has been beloved by millions who’ve read the book to the screen is such an incredible opportunity. We get to make something that hasn’t been seen before — a coming of age story about a sixth grader who is non-verbal and uses a wheelchair and who will be played by a wonderful actress with cerebral palsy.”
The production team includes multiple people from the cerebral palsy and AAC (augmentative and alternative communication device) community, who have been involved from the earliest stages of development.