Emma Myers has loved film and television ever since she can remember. One of the co-creators of SBS’s Latecomers, she now wants to use the power of screen to change perceptions of people with disability.
“When people haven’t had the chance to encounter disability or are ignorant of disability, they will more than likely turn to what’s going on screen. A lot of the time, that’s not accurate; it relies on stereotypes.
“The main reason why I wanted to be in the film and television industry was to change perceptions of women with physical disability by combating stereotypes from the writers’ room.”
Latecomers follows Frank (Angus Thompson) and Sarah (Hannah Diviney), two strangers with cerebral palsy, as they navigate their own relationships with sex, and each other. Miriama Smith, Patrick Jhanur, Tracy Mann, Emily Havea, Tom Wilson, Brittany Santariga, Amy Kersey, Piper Brown and Liam Greinke also star.
Myers hopes that when people watch Latecomers, they “see people with disabilities as viable options for romantic and intimate partnerships.”
“I’ve never been in a relationship. I don’t think anyone’s ever seen me in a non-platonic way and a lot of that has to do with how we are represented and portrayed in the media industry.”
Myers created the series, funded through SBS and Screen Australia’s Digital Original initiative, alongside Angus Thompson and Nina Oyama. Madeleine Gottlieb and Alistair Baldwin directed, while Hannah Ngo and Liam Heyen are the producers.
In crafting the show, Myers and Thompson drew from their experiences with cerebral palsy, while Oyama drew from hers as a carer.
“The main challenge during Latecomers was the sheer amount of ideas we had between the team and finding a way to make those ideas work cohesively that best fit the story,” Myers says.
“We had a lot to work with creatively, and I’m really proud of the end result and what the team accomplished.”
Myers met Thompson through the ABC Regional Storyteller Scholarship in 2020.
“Angus reached out to me after the scholarship had ended and asked whether I was interested in applying for the SBS Digital Originals together. One we began looking at the process, I suggested bringing in a third person who was more experienced in the screenwriting and grants field, so that’s when Nina joined the team.”
Myers own experiences specifically shape the character of Sarah; she has spent the past five years researching the sexual representation of physically disabled women on screen. “I was able to craft this character of Sarah to be about 80 per cent based on the findings,” going against other more stereotypical depictions.
With a background as a journalist, Latecomers is Myers first credit. She has not started on her next project yet but wants to continue in screenwriting “because I find it freeing.” She hopes her future work will contribute to modern audiences getting “a realistic view of what it’s like for people with disabilities.”
“I want to impact change. I want to make an impact in the screen industry; the Australian screen industry, and overseas. It’s just the first step in what I hope will be a long and successful writing career.”
Latecomers premieres on December 3 on SBS Viceland and SBS On Demand.