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Monday, February 23, 2015

Don't be Crippled or Crazy but Act it

As a child I wanted to be an actress. I took drama classes and even went to those auditions one hears about on the radio. I taught myself to cry on command. I was committed to becoming famous, in fact sometimes I still fantasize about rolling down the red carpet. Acting wasn't just some childhood pipe dream but at some point I realized it would never happen for me. I had a speech impediment. I was never going to be conventionally pretty enough for Hollywood. And lastly, there was no one in the movies or on TV who couldn't walk.

Now I can fully appreciate the fact that art imitates life and the sole purpose of an actor's job is to be something or someone that he or she isn't already. What I can't jive with is the fact that actors with disabilities are almost never hired for roles but their “normal” counterparts are often given the greatest awards for portraying the lives of those not as physically or mentally normal. Oscars aka The Academy Awards are the epitome of success in the movie industry. I haven't seen “The Theory of Everything,” so I won't be reviewing that. What I know is Eddie Redmayne just won an Oscar for portraying part of Stephen Hawkins' life. I may not be an Academy judge but it's safe to say Redmayne won Best Actor because they were awed by the fact that he could manipulate his body to look disabled and perform as such. I'm not saying that wasn't a daunting and exhausting task but stay with me.

Today I read an article saying that actors who have done roles playing people with mental or physical disabilities almost always win the coveted Best Actor award. I find this extremely irritating because it's perpetuating a double-standard. I can't speak for everyone that has a disability, especially a mental disability. But what I can say is I live in a world that was not made for people like me. A world that has made me feel like a second class human more than once. I don't always think this way, I typically ignore it because I'm used to adapting but sometimes I can't help but notice the signs. When traveling is harder than it needs to be. When people intentionally or unintentionally ostracize me. When I can't get in a building or fit in the restroom. The list goes on and these are all signs that I live in a world that technically doesn't want me. Correction they want me but not my disability because my disability isn't pleasant or easy to deal with.

So, Hollywood I do wonder why do you ignore the “weak” in real life but reward your own for playing us? I'm not good enough to be an actress but my life is interesting enough to glamorize on the big screen, right?

(Kudos to those with varying disabilities trying to make it on film or any other form of entertainment, for that matter.)