Season 2 of honest, unflinching, doc series Push debuts on AMI-tv

Bean Gill is no stranger to AMI-tv. She has been featured in an episode of the network’s runaway hit, You Can’t Ask That, which features members of the disability community answering questions about their lives honestly. The network’s flagship magazine series, AMI This Week, spoke to Bean about her life and business, ReYu Paralysis Recovery Centre. Bean and her friends were the focus of the AMI original documentary Wheel Girl Stories, a community of women in the Edmonton area who talk openly about their experiences as wheelchair users.

Now Bean is back with Season 2 of Push.

Airing Mondays at 8 p.m. Eastern on AMI-tv and available on demand on AMI+, Push is a genuine, unflinching look at life for wheelchair users and friends. From the logistics and stigmas of sex with a fellow wheelchair user, to navigating new motherhood as a “quad mom,” to facing the people and places who knew them pre-injury, Season 2 follows Bean and her friends as they confront their past, facing their demons and supporting new members of the group through the early days of wheelchair life.

We spoke to Bean while she was in Toronto recently.

What has it been like having the chance to meet with the media and talk about you talk your life and talk about Push?
Bean Gill: Honestly, super surreal. I don’t even have the words. I don’t have the words. Mostly I say it’s bonkers. I don’t think I’m anything special. I think I’m just a regular human doing regular things, but having these opportunities to talk to big media outlets, I am just so grateful for it because my goal has been to change the world, and now I get to do it on such a broader scale at a faster rate. So yeah, man, I’m here for it.

How did Push come along and how did it end up going to CBC and AMI?
BG: I’ve been blessed with a lot of opportunities that have come after having my spinal cord injury. And one of the things was I opened ReYu Paralysis Recovery Center in Edmonton. After doing that, I won a couple of awards and when I won Top 40 under 40, Kaitlin [Stewart], our executive producer, was flipping through the magazine and she said when she saw my picture that I jumped off the page to her and she said, ‘This woman has a story to tell.’ So she cold-called, sent me an email, asked me to go for coffee, and I jump at every opportunity. So I was like, ‘Yep, let’s do it.’ We talked and we didn’t really know what this was going to look like at all. And she also brought [executive producer] Sean De Vries into the fold. And then we had a bunch more meetings and Sean just asked me, ‘What do you want out of this?’ And I said, ‘I want a reality TV show.’ I’ve always wanted one for so long. I watched the show Push Girls, and that really inspired me and showed me that, wait a minute, I can be healthy. People will date me. What, you can have a job? Because I just didn’t think of these things. I had a stigma towards people with disabilities even though I was that person.

But one thing Push Girls missed was the transfers. I wanted to know the nitty gritty. Do you have bowel control? Do you have bladder control? Everything about living life with a spinal cord injury. That’s what I wanted to know, and that’s what I needed to know in the beginning. That’s what I really wanted for Push, is to show all those things. Because I’m thinking about somebody who’s newly injured, who’s Googling information and Push comes up and then they watch it and they say, ‘Wow, I can have friends. I can do all these things. I can have a family.’ I wanted to show people that your life can be such a beautiful, successful thing. It’s not the sad, depressed notion of what disability is or what people think is.

One of the most interesting and engaging conversations in Season 2 was about having sex when you are a wheelchair user. It was an honest and funny conversation as well as being educational.
BG: You just push yourself out of this comfort zone. And when you are talking to your friends, you kind of forget about the cameras. That’s just our natural behaviour with each other. We need to teach people. So this is how we get rid of the stigma is through education. So we’re happy to do it.

Are you seeing a big change about representation of the disability community in primetime television?
BG: Yeah, I think we are. It’s at a snail’s pace, but at least it’s happening. Is there room for more? Yes, always. Because there was a show a couple years ago where they had an able-bodied man portraying somebody with a disability. People with disabilities are the biggest minority in the world. There are billions of us, guaranteed. There are actors in the disability community.

Find the people who have the lived experience who want to do these things because they’re out there and not only do they deserve to get paid, they deserve to get paid well, and then also get that recognition and be able to have that kind of social change that we see. A lot of people get their stigmas and stereotypes and what they think disability is from media, and media is using the medical model of disability, which is archaic and nonexistent anymore. That’s not us. We don’t want your sympathy and we don’t want your pity. Let me tell you that very clearly. If you don’t understand me, get a translator. We don’t.

We don’t want it. We want to be treated with respect and dignity. That’s it. We are regular people just like you. And so why should we be treated any differently?

Season 2 of Push airs Mondays at 8 p.m. Eastern on AMI-tv and AMI+.

Image courtesy of AMI.


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