Elaine Frontain Bryant, executive VP and head of programming at A&E Network, talks to TV Real about A&E’s new eight-part docuseries, The Employables.
The Employables, which premieres tonight at 10 p.m., follows job seekers with neurological conditions like autism and Tourette syndrome as they search for meaningful employment. “We wanted to shine a light on the stories of several people as they search for work in hopes that it will help bring awareness to the issue,” Bryant says. “The Employables illuminates the fact that embracing our differences is what makes us all stronger.”
Each one-hour episode of the show sees participants harness the unique skillset that their condition brings them. Assisting them on their journey is an autism or Tourette syndrome specialist who guides them on their job hunt, identifying their strengths so they can find careers that they will excel in long-term. Each job seeker then sets out on a round of interviews with potential employers to find the perfect fit for them.
“Many have struggled for years to find fulfilling employment, so each episode offers excitement as we see them uncover their strengths and their journey towards meaningful work,” continues Bryant, who also serves as an executive producer on the show. “Each of their paths are different and we are excited for viewers to watch them unfold.” The series also aims to shed light on the experiences of friends and family as they support the job seekers on their mission.
The Employables is based on an original format called Employable Me, which was produced by Optomen Productions, an all3media company, for the BBC and is distributed by all3media international. “We made some minor changes in the storytelling style—showing a bit more action and a bit faster paced—so that the show would speak to an American audience, but we kept the essence of the original format the same,” Bryant says of the adaptation.
The series is the latest of A&E’s program offerings that focuses on positively embracing people’s differences, coming on the heels of the Emmy-winning series Born This Way, which highlights the abilities of individuals with Down syndrome. To accompany the show, A&E will be providing information online and via social media about organizations that offer resources for neuro-diverse people and their families. “It is important that we recognize and celebrate [these individuals] to help bring about change both in the workplace and in the lives of many people,” Bryant says.