I went to college for musical theatre and voice performance. I graduated and worked at regional theaters and did a few Off-Off Broadway productions. And then I lost my leg when I was driving to an audition.
I’m an actor/singer/dancer/musician/comedian. And I happen to wear a prosthetic leg. Does that make me a disabled actor? I don’t think so. It makes me a more knowledgeable human being. The experience of losing a limb and living with a body outside the norm will certainly influence my choices as an actor, but I think that’s actually an advantage. Not a disadvantage.
Technology has come so far, when I walk sometimes it almost feels as natural as my real foot and ankle. Sometimes it hurts like hell and I curse the prosthetic leg torture device! I’m ready for technology to catch up with me completely, but we’re not quite there yet.
This summer I have the joy of being part of a new musical, The Bipartisan. I was cast not despite my prosthetic leg, but in part, because of it! This director knew how to think outside the box and saw the opportunities in utilizing my “fake leg” for comedic purposes and to catch the audience by surprise.
Audiences always enjoy a good inspiration story about someone living with a disability. I prefer that audiences be inspired by my performance or skills, not my disability. Nicu’s Spoon Theater Company is spinning that notion on its head with their new production of Richard III. All of the actors in the show have some sort of disability - except Richard III.
As a society we are so afraid of disability. Consciously or subconsciously we all know it can happen to anyone at any time. Richard III is evil because he was born with a disability and it made him hungry for power. Not it this version.
On this 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, please join me in embracing this notion that there are no disabled people, just disabled technology. Our world is beautiful because of its diversity, the arts are the best outlet to explore that beauty and promote inclusion for all.