A little bit ago a friend encouraged us to check out Accessible Hollywood, a site founded and edited by Tatiana Lee, an actress, model, and lifestyle blogger born with Spina Bifida. After we finished voraciously reading through her site, we reached out to Tatiana who graciously agreed to chat with us about diversity and inclusion in the world of dating.
Meddle: Tell us a little about yourself! What brought you to LA?
Tatiana: I moved to LA to pursue my passions as an actor and model. I was raised in a small town outside of Philadelphia called Coatesvlle. I grew up loving fashion magazines and watching movies and I never saw someone like me represented (a person of color with a disability), and I wanted to be the example of what I wish I saw growing up as a kid.
Meddle: When others find your site, Accessible Hollywood, what do you hope their major takeaways are?
Tatiana: I want people to take away the feeling that people with disabilities enjoy life just like everyone else; we aren’t sad about being disabled and we are (possibly!) pretty dope to be around. We should be included in all aspects of society especially in mass media.
M: We as a culture talk a lot about diversity and inclusion—what does real inclusion look like to you? How can we, as a dating app, help make that happen?
Tatiana: True inclusion is including everyone—no demographic is missing. Most of the time people’s ideas of inclusion these days is including an Asian person and a black guy. Lol. I’m joking, but true inclusion means including disability, LGBTQ, everyone.
M: What advice do you have for those with disabilities when choosing to use a dating app like Meddle?
Tatiana: Grab a friend you really trust, someone who knows you better than you know yourself, and have them help you with finding a date. It can seem scary, but be open—it might also be a fun adventure so just be open to the possibilities. Also, make sure your photo includes your assistive device. Don’t be afraid to show the true you—if someone doesn’t like it, then they are missing out on getting to know the REAL you and all the great things you have to offer.
M: What advice do you have for folks planning accessible dates and activities?
Tatiana: Take the time to do a little research about where you are taking your date. Yes, in 2018 you still have to make sure as some places still aren’t accessible. As a result, your date will be impressed that you were concerned enough to call ahead. Also, don’t make a big deal about their disability. You are on a date with them, not their wheelchair or assistive device. Lastly, if you see they need help, it’s ok to ask but don’t overdo it as it can get annoying, Most of us love having our independence, but don’t forget to still open the door, help us into the car, etc. anything you would do for any other date.
M: Who would you pick to be your Meddlers?
Tatiana: I would pick my sister first and one of my close friends. They know what I’m looking for (even when my own judgment is clouded!). I mostly trust them to Meddle in my dating. LOL.
M: If a friend were to pick you as their Meddler, what three words would you use to describe your approach to helping them find a match?
Tatiana: I guess it depends on what I know that friend values most, but I would say: looks, hobbies, job. Those are some of the first things I look for.
M: Favorite date spot in LA? Elsewhere?
Tatiana: I have so many fun places I love to go but my favorite place that I think is so romantic is The Getty. It’s an amazing museum with a view, and art will always spark conversation. I have articles about other cools places in LA on my blog, Accessible Hollywood. Check it out for reviews on fun spots around LA.
Tatiana A Lee is the founder and editor of Accessible Hollywood, where she highlights her journey as an actress, model, and lifestyle blogger born with Spina Bifida. She was in Apple’s first ad campaign featuring people with disabilities using Apple’s many accessibility products. You can also see Tatiana in short films, commercials, and viral videos like Soul Pancake’s “How You See-Me”, and you can catch her appearing in the Youtube Web series “Pretty Dudes” in 2018.