Orange native Nic Novicki is now in the same club as Michael J. Fox, Jose Feliciano, Norman Lear, Ray Charles, Carrie Fischer and other stars who have received a prestigious Media Access Award for contributing to the overall awareness of the disability experience through media and strengthening that field.

With his parents — Dr. David and Lynn Novicki — in the audience, Nic Novicki, who stands 3 feet, 10 inches tall because of a rare form of dwarfism, recently received the SAG-AFTRA Harold Russell award at the Media Access Awards in Beverly Hills, California.

The award is named after the first actor with a disability to receive an Oscar. Russell was a double amputee from injuries sustained in World War II and won the best supporting actor Oscar for the 1946 film “The Best Years of Our Lives.”

“I was on cloud nine,” Novicki said of receiving the award. “To be listed as a Harold Russell Award recipient among this group of talented individuals is a true honor. Not only have I grown up watching past winners on TV and film, I’ve also grown up looking up to them and their work as activists.”

Novicki, an accomplished actor and comedian, was honored for the Easterseals Disability Film Challenge, of which he’s the founder and director.

The Media Access Awards are Hollywood’s version of the Oscars for depictions of people with disabilities, or as Novicki quipped in a national press release, “like the Oscars, but with more wheelchairs and sign language.”

Novicki, a graduate of Amity High School, includes among his television credits: “Boardwalk Empire,” “The Sopranos,” “The Neighbors,” “Austin and Ally,” “Private Practice” and “Drop Dead Diva.”

He has appeared in several movies, including “November Rule,” “The Last 5 Years,” “Boston Girls,” “Breaking Wind” and will soon be seen in the upcoming “Dead Ant.”

He’s also a well-known stand-up comedian who often performs to raise money for charity.

Novicki’s dwarfism affected his joints and required major surgeries during his youth that put him in a full-body cast.

He said his parents didn’t realize he was a little person until about age 2.

Although he grew up with the disability, Novicki said his mom expected the same of him as she did of his typically sized two brothers, including doing chores. There were step stools around the house and if a dish was to go into the sink, Novicki couldn’t get away with just putting it on the counter. He also played sports as a youngster.

Nic’s mom, Lynn Novicki, said she was extremely proud and excited about her son receiving the award because he has had his own challenges, yet he has had such “an incredible impact” on others and she’s glad it was recognized.

Lynn Novicki said she realized early on that she could advocate for him, but that could only go on for so long.

“He was more than accepting of that and took over,” she said. She said Nic had a lot of friends as a kid — they were always at the house — and he was like a “ring leader.”

At 8 years old he began to work crowds, recalling how in one of his earliest appearances he spoke at Milford Rotary to raise money for Little People of America, breaking the ice with jokes about not being able to reach the podium.

“When I could make a person laugh, I would break the ice,” he said.

Novicki said he doesn’t make being a little person the focus of his life or career, but “It’s part of my life.”

He created the challenge in 2013 and later partnered with Easterseals to bring it to a new level.

In the challenge, registered filmmakers are given a span of 55 hours over the designated weekend to write and produce short films of three to five minutes that help change the way disabilities are viewed. The topic is announced at the beginning of the weekend.

Films are judged in four award categories: Best Film, Best Filmmaker, Best Actor and Best Awareness Campaign.

Each film has to have a scene that features a person with a disability in front of or behind the camera. Disability is not mentioned in the films.

“Hollywood has only begun to tap into the power of inclusion or (to) showcase this significant segment of our society,” said Easterseals Southern California President & CEO Mark Whitley.

Novicki said one in five people have some form of disability, yet less than 2 percent of people with a disability are seen on screen. He said people with disabilities are “the largest minority group in the country.”

The challenge is to “encourage people to take control of their lives,” he said.

Novicki said he would love to see scenes from the New Haven area in this year’s disability film challenge, April 13 to 15, and hopes filmmakers from Yale University, University of New Haven or anywhere else in the area will enter. The films can be shot and edited with a cellphone, he said.

He said the film challenge is a great way for filmmakers to get noticed.

For Novicki, producing his own films allowed him to play whatever role he wanted — the love interest, the business owner.

“I think you want to see yourself represented on screen,” Novicki said. “If you see guy in a wheelchair as a doctor, it breaks stereotypes and provides exposure.”

A winning film could get a filmmaker in the right doors, he said.

“The great thing about the challenge is that people can submit it to other film festivals,” he said. “We do want to change the way the world defines disabilities, but beyond that we really want to give people opportunities.”

Nic’s dad, Dr. David Novicki, said he’s proud of his son, who received a standing ovation at the Media Access Awards event.

“Nic is a great guy who’s very concerned about people who have disabilities and goes over the top to see that people with all forms of disabilities have opportunities,” such as through the film challenge.

Because of the challenge, “A lot of people around the country have seen people through an authentic lens,” he said.

A member of Little People of America, — Nic met his wife, Teale, at a convention of the organization.

He spoke at his former school, Amity High, in recent years, telling students there were many obstacles for him to overcome as a child, noting he was “small, had a big head and walked funny.” Joint problems led to a surgery in high school that put him in a full-body cast, but he turned his academics around after being inspired by another little person he met at the hospital.

Novicki told students he started taking medication for attention deficit disorder and went from being a C student to an A student. He later received a scholarship to Temple University, where he majored in entrepreneurship and marketing.

“Courage is when you take risks and don’t know if you’ll succeed,” he told students at Amity.

His wife is a little person who was an actress and now works in development of feature films and television.

Like most in the entertainment business, he’s diversified and adding producer, director and writer to his resume.

“In the entertainment industry, you just have to keep moving forward,” he said.

As a stand-up comedian, Novicki has performed on AXS Gotham Comedy Live and traveled the world, including several tours through Armed Forces Entertainment, performing for troops in Kosovo, England, Germany, France. Egypt, Jordan, Portugal and Spain.

He also has coached basketball, soccer at the World Dwarf Games and has been heavily involved with Little People of America.