A few years ago, I started working on the concept of a solo performance that dealt with my learning to walk again at the age of 13. A few months ago, I wrote an article about my life as an actor with a disability called Early for Everything. Expanding on that article, and continuing the work that I started a few years ago, I am writing a solo show dealing with my disability–or as I like to refer to it, “Different Ability.” Both a gratifying and emotionally taxing process, writing this show and seeing it to fruition is both a personal and professional goal. I think there needs to be more diversity in casting, not just with ethnicity or gender, but in terms of different abilities. People with disabilities, myself included, deal with stigmas and adversity on a daily basis. Whether we are battling our demons or trying to clarify “what we have” to someone who doesn’t understand, our disabilities are always with us. The thing about us as performers that led us to be excluded from things like gym class (seriously, I was in third grade and told to sit out because I would “slow the other kids down”) becomes one of the things that makes us stand out. We are intelligent and we are just as alive as anyone else and it’s important that others realize that. Over the years, I have been scared of being myself. Even as an adult, I have been afraid of rejection if the “truth comes out” about my cerebral palsy. Then I realized, I never let it hold me back as a kid, why let it hold me back as an adult? Writing the show has been cause for reflection–some good, some bad–but in the end I’ve realized that my voice needs to be heard. I need to help people understand that just because someone is physically disabled doesn’t mean they are any less worthy of achieving their dreams.
Published by Stephanie Gould
Stephanie holds a B.A. in English from Saint Anselm College in Manchester, NH and studied at the prestigious Circle in the Square Theatre School in NYC. She is a member of SAG-AFTRA and AEA. She is also a graduate of the improv program at the People's Improv Theater. View all posts by Stephanie Gould