Rarely does a television commercial elicit the emotional impact of an Oscar-nominated drama.
But “Emily’s Oz” – an advertisement that aired during Sunday’s award show – melted hearts around the world by offering a creative answer to a difficult question: What do blind people experience when they watch a movie?
In the commercial, a crew of professional artists and film producers bring to life the Land of Oz – as imagined (and directed) by Emily, an amazingly creative 7-year-old blind girl from Iowa.
“I think about the shape, I think about color, and I also think about sound,” whose family wants to keep their last name private. “I take into my brain, and I think about what [the movie] would look like to me.”
In Emily’s mind, the classic characters from The Wizard of Oz are a little different than they appeared onscreen in 1939. For instance, her Tin Man “has a big toe the size of a house,” while the Cowardly Lion “is small like a toy poodle” with webbed feet. The Scarecrow, meanwhile, has long wooden teeth and wears tubes for clothes. And as for Dorothy, Emily says she “looks just like me.”
Behind the Scenes of “Emily’s Oz”
As far back as her parents can remember, Emily always had an exceptionally active imagination. When she was a child, her mother tells PEOPLE Emily developed an entire “imaginary friend world,” complete with “different states” each with their own “geography, birds, animals” and even politics.
While Emily enjoys “doing typical 7-year-old kid stuff” like riding her bike and swimming, her mom says her new favorite toy is “an iPhone, which she loves because it’s so accessible with the voice command features.”
Now, thanks to the Xfinity technology promoted in her commercial, surfing the channels for Comcast customers will be as easy as communicating with their smartphone. With the X1 talking guide, the television will “read aloud selections like program titles, network names, and time slots,” all with the press of a button.
How X1 Works
“Emily s story perfectly captures the reason we work so hard on developing accessible products and services,” Tom Wlodkowski, Vice President of Accessibility for Comcast Cable tells PEOPLE.
Mr. Wlodkowski, who also happens to have a visual disability, added that, “At Comcast we want to create opportunities for people who love film and television, but who might not have the opportunity to experience it to its fullest.”
The X1 service is already available in millions of cable boxes on the market today, and Comcast is working to update existing boxes with the X1 service free of charge for those customers who have a visual disability, according to Wlodkowski.
As for Emily’s future, she says when she grows up she’d like to be either a veterinarian, librarian, musician, doctor, or even an artist – and with new technologies breaking down barriers for the 8.1 million Americans living with visual impairments everyday, the possibilities are endless.