The Right Footed film crew along with Jessica Cox in Ethiopia

A long time coming

2011 was a year of many milestones–personally and professionally. In May, Patrick proposed and of course, I said yes. After celebrating our engagement, we traveled to Kenya and Ghana, where I had speaking engagements–my first ever in Africa! Shortly thereafter, Patrick made his first trip of many to the Philippines, where he met my aunts, uncles, and endless amounts of cousins.

The year of “firsts” didn’t stop there. In November, Emmy award winning filmmaker Nick Spark heard my story from a pilot friend of his, and reached out. From one end of the phone to another, we talked about the idea of producing a documentary about my life.

It was beyond my wildest dreams when, in 2015, Right Footed was picked by dozens of film festivals. Today, I’m even more thrilled to share that it will make its first U.S. TV debut this Saturday, May 20 on Fuse

Nearly six years have passed since I partnered with Nick on this incredible adventure. It’s also been four years since I began working with HI, and what a marvelous relationship that has been. 

The summary for Right Footed always centers on my life story, but I sincerely hope that after watching the film, people walk away with a broader understanding of international culture and disability rights. It is easy to live in a bubble, seeing only what already surrounds us and is “normal.” Being able to film with HI and share important stories of the people they’ve helped will hopefully pop that bubble for millions of people this weekend. 

Six years is a long time to work on a single project but it’s a blink of an eye in the grand scheme of things. Even so, a lot has changed.

What’s new?

The Disability Treaty continues to gain traction worldwide. Among its successes, North Korea has recently allowed inspectors to visit the country and report on the status of disability rights. In Ethiopia, HIl’s inclusive education work has grown to 49 schools thanks to continued support from USAID–that’s up from six when I visited. 

The Philippines has transformed since Super Typhoon Haiyan. The main roads I saw on a recent visit were in even better condition than before the storm. Rebuilding better has lead to bustling commerce in the region, including the construction of my cousin’s brand new hotel in Guiuan.

Personally, I’ve reached some new milestones since 2012. Patrick and I recently celebrated our fifth anniversary. Both my brother and my sister are now married, and they welcomed a beautiful baby girl earlier this year—the first of the next generation in the Cox family. With a lot of help from Patrick and Sr. Master Latherow, I earned my Third Degree black belt as well as a state champion title in Taekwondo. 

Nick has been pleasantly surprised by the excellent reception of Right Footed on the film festival circuit. At last tally, it had been shown in more than 50 film festivals and won 17 major awards. It has also enjoyed international TV release on National Geographic in more than 80 countries, a run on ABS-CBN in the Philippines, and now Fuse will finally show it on U.S. television. According to the Independent Critic, Right Footed is “the kind of film you’ll watch, you’ll watch again, and then you’ll simply have to share it.” 

What hasn’t changed?

Unfortunately, the United States has yet to ratify the Disability Treaty.

There also continues to be uncountable disability rights violations around the world, but the treaty continues to lay the groundwork for global change. Hopefully, Right Footed will help carry that change to the hearts and minds of those who see it. 

What’s next? 

Later this year, Patrick and I hope to take another international visit with HI. As you probably know, HI is on the ground in 59 countries and we have only visited two of them. Hopefully, we can announce a trip soon!

Later this summer, I’ll share more about my new favorite hobby: Slacklining. If you’ve never heard of a slackline before, think of tightrope walking but on a two-inch wide strip from a trampoline. It’s super fun, so stay tuned for more on this next month!

Later this week, the U.S. is tuning in on Saturday, May 20 at 8pm EST for Right Footed! So grab your tissues, invite your friends, and watch it! If you don’t have Fuse in your list of channels (find it here!), you can still watch–here’s how. Enjoy!

Jessica Cox