12 Stars Who’ve Proven That Their Conditions Couldn’t Stop Them From Rising Above and Beyond

year ago

As our society becomes more inclusive, certain performers are becoming the flag bearers for their communities and helping us redefine what inclusion truly means. Disabled people have either been sorely underrepresented or misrepresented in the industry in the past, but the time has come for them to claim their place.

Bright Side is all about giving people an empowering message, so we have prepared a list of 12 stars who’ve managed to overcome a certain condition on their path to success.

1. Billie Eilish

The now Academy Award winner for Best Original Song, Billie Eilish, revealed to her fans in 2018 that she’s suffered from Tourette’s syndrome since she was a child. This neurological disorder causes people to have sudden twitches and movements or to unwillingly repeat certain sounds.

“My tics are only physical and not super noticeable to others if you’re not really paying attention,” she said. “My Tourette’s makes easy things a lot harder. Certain things increase and/or trigger the intensity of the tics. But it’s something I grew up with and am used to.”

2. Millie Bobby Brown

The 18-year-old actress who played Eleven in Stranger Things was born with a partial loss of hearing in one ear, which she later lost altogether. But the actress has shown that she is as brave as her fictional character. Apart from acting, she’s now pursuing a singing career.

"I just started to sing, and if I sound bad I don’t care, because I’m just doing what I love,’’ she said. “You don’t have to be good at singing. You don’t have to be good at dancing or acting. If you like to do it, if you genuinely enjoy doing it, then do it. No one should stop you.”

3. Ryan Gosling

As a child, Ryan Gosling was diagnosed with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). The actor felt that there was “something messed up with his brain” and underwent a hellish time having difficulties with learning to read. His mother even had to quit her job to homeschool him.

For the protagonist of The Notebook, becoming a performer was the boost that he needed for his self-esteem and gave him a goal in life. He dropped out of school at 17 in pursuit of his dreams, and the rest is now history.

4. George Robinson

Robinson was 17 when he suffered a spinal cord injury while playing rugby, and is now in a wheelchair. The accident almost jeopardized his future in acting. He’d been considering going to drama school, but decided to study Philosophy instead. Nevertheless, his desire to become an actor was still present when he auditioned for the role of Isaac in the series Sex Education.

During an interview, the 24-year-old actor spoke about inclusion in the process of casting and in the creative process as well. “A lot of the time writers don’t know disability, and that’s not necessarily a fault with them, but it’s something that hasn’t necessarily come into their thoughts”, he explained. “They included me in the creation process of Isaac, for example. It’s definitely getting there, but we just need to remind ourselves that there’s some way to go.”

5. Sofia Jirau

Sofia Jirau, has become the first model with Down’s syndrome to pose for Victoria’s Secret. Jirau started her modeling career in 2019 and, in just a few years, has accomplished more than many would ever dream of. She launched her own online fashion store, Alavett, appeared on the runway at New York Fashion Week, and even created her own “No Limits” campaign to raise awareness about Down syndrome. This is how she caught the attention of the executives at Victoria’s Secret.

She posted on her Instagram, “One day I dreamed about it, I worked to get there, and today it’s a dream come true. I can finally tell you my big secret... I am the first Victoria’s Secret model with Down syndrome! Thank you all for always supporting me in my endeavors. This is just the beginning!”

6. Anthony Hopkins

Sir Anthony Hopkins was diagnosed in his late 70s as having a form of autism known as Asperger’s. People with this syndrome struggle with complex social situations because they don’t often detect certain subtle social cues and have difficulty engaging with others.

However, the actor was quick to dismiss the diagnosis. He insisted that he doesn’t “feel any different” and criticized how “we’ve ruined the human system by tabulating everything.” Hopkins is renowned for his ability to remember lines. During the shooting of the movie Amistad, the actor surprised the crew when he delivered a 7-page speech in one go.

7. Ryan O’Connell

Ryan O’Connell has become the online voice of the millennials through his blogs and tweets. In 2015, his memoir I’m Special: And Other Lies We Tell Ourselves was published, where he spoke candidly about what it was like to grow up as a gay man with cerebral palsy. He then went on to produce and star the Netflix series Special, which, as you might imagine, is based on this novel.

During an interview, when speaking about the popularity of the series, he said, “There is room for stories like mine, and people want to see them. So the success really was meaningful for so many reasons, but I think it’s been really healing for me.”

8. Troy Kotsur

35 years ago, Marlee Matlin became the first deaf performer to win an Oscar. Her co-star in the movie CODA, Troy Kotsur, followed in her footsteps during the last Academy Awards when he became the first deaf man to win the award. The actor dedicated his Oscar to the deaf and disabled communities and highlighted, “This is our moment.”

According to Kotsur, Matlin was his inspiration. “It’s a tough journey as a deaf actor,” he explained. “There are so few opportunities out there, and she kept on going. She was persistent. And then, so was I with my own career as a stage actor. So here I am today.”

9. Johnny Depp

The 58-year-old actor, Johnny Depp, has revealed that he is almost blind in one eye and near-sighted in the other. He explained that he’s never had “proper vision” and that he’s “basically blind as a bat.” So, unless his character wears glasses, he can only see a few inches away from his face when he’s acting.

However, the actor has not let his poor eyesight become an impediment when it comes to acting. When speaking about action scenes in Pirates of the Caribbean, the actor explained, “I worked closely with a stunt double but filmed many of the chase scenes myself. It is important because there’s a physical language to the character that I think is important.”

10. Gaten Matarazzo

Millie’s co-star, Gaten Matarazzo, also has a disability, which probably didn’t come unnoticed. He has a rare genetic condition known as cleidocranial dysplasia (CCD). It affects the development of the bones and teeth.

“It’s one of the biggest reasons why I haven’t been getting roles, because of my lisp, and the teeth situation, and my height,” the actor confessed during an interview. But those unique features finally landed him a role because the producers from Stranger Things were, in fact, looking for actors with unique features that would make them stand out.

11. Winnie Harlow

The Canadian supermodel was diagnosed at a very early age with vitiligo, which causes loss of skin color in patches. This led to Harlow’s classmates calling her awful names like “cow” and “zebra.” The condition is not only physical but also has an emotional component, sometimes associated with feelings of anxiety, embarrassment, and depression.

At the age of 16, Harlow got her golden opportunity when she was featured in a video from journalist Shannon Boodram. The video was a big hit and, in 2014, Harlow’s stardom was finally catapulted when she participated in Tyra Banks’ legendary America’s Next Top Model. She’s become an ambassador of a more diverse fashion industry, where traditional standards of beauty have been reshaped to fit everyone.

12. Julia Roberts

Glossophobia is the medical term used to describe the fear of public speaking. One would never consider that a celebrity could suffer from this fear, but apparently, even our shiniest stars can get a bit tongue-tied when speaking in public. Julia Roberts had to overcome 2 obstacles in order to become an actress: she suffered from a pronounced stutter as a child, as well as a fear of public speaking.

Apparently, both she and her brother, Eric Roberts, suffered from this in their childhood, but Julia, unlike her brother, has never been too open about it. One thing’s for sure, she hasn’t let this condition stifle her road to success, and she proved it during her acceptance speech during the 73rd Oscar Awards ceremony.

Did you know about the struggles these actors have been through? What about you? What obstacles have you overcome in life?


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