Did You Know


Laruen Potter

Portrait of actor Laruen Potter

Laruen Potter’s role as Becky on Fox’s hit show Glee began a surge of representation in the media for characters with Down syndrome. Potter’s portrayal of the spunky Becky has garnered much critical acclaim, and led to Potter’s appointment to the President’s Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities in 2011.


Marlee Matlin

Portrait of actor Marlee Matlin

Academy Award winner Marlee Matlin, who pursued a professional acting career despite being legally deaf, is an inspirational role model to many. She received a Golden Globe Award and an Academy Award for her role in Children of a Lesser God. Since receiving her Oscar, Marlee has been a character on many TV shows including The L Word and Law & Order: SVU, and has appeared on reality shows such as The Apprentice and Dancing with the Stars.


Lenín Boltaire Moreno Garcés

Portrait of Ecuador President Lenín Boltaire Moreno Garcé

Moreno is the 44th and current President of Ecuador. Moreno was shot in 1998 in a robbery which resulted in paralysis. At that point, he dedicated his life to advocating for the recognition and rights of those with disabilities, and was elected Vice President in 2006. He created the Ecuador without Borders program in adherence to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, adopted in 2006 and later included in the constitution of 2008. For his advocacy for people with disabilities, he was nominated for the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize.


Maya Angelou

Portrait of author Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou was an award-winning author, poet, civil rights activist, college professor and screen writer. Most recognized for her literary works. Angelou was and remains among the most influential woman of her time. Angelou received several awards throughout her career including two NAACP image awards, a Pulitzer award and a Presidential Medal of Freedom, awarded by former President Barack Obama.

As a child, Angelou was sexually abused and raped by her mother’s boyfriend. As a result, Angelou became mute for almost five years. Angelou had selective mutism, an anxiety disorder that causes a child to not speak due to physical and psychological trauma they endured. In the five-year span that she experienced this, her listening, observing and memorizing skills improved and her love of books expanded. This helped her later when she began working in becoming successful in her career.


Stephen Hawking

Portrait of researcher and professor Stephen Hawking

A theoretical physicist, astrophysicist, cosmologist, and eminent scientist, Stephen Hawking was diagnosed with ALS at age 21: he was given 2 more years to live. He lived until he was 76-years-old.

He had been paralysed from head to toe for over thirty years and used a voice synthesizer to be able to communicate, and a wheelchair that he operated through slight movements of the head and eyes.

None of this prevented him from developing his activity as an exemplary researcher and professor, and intense personal life that allowed him to make his illness known to the world.

Becoming one of the most recognizable celebrities of our time, his story was taken to the cinema in the film "The Theory of Everything".


Frida Kahlo

Portrait of Mexican Artist Frida Kahlo

Frida suffered polio during her childhood and, according to some sources, also had spina bifida, which caused dysmetria in her right leg. In addition, her spinal problems were aggravated by an accident suffered in her adolescence, which left her with physical issues for her entire life.

Frida spent much of her life in bed suffering from severe pain. Even so, she became one of the most famous artists of all time and an icon of the twentieth century.


John Nash

Portrait of Nobel Prizing John Nash

An example of a celebrity with a disability who broke the mould is John Nash, an American mathematician whose life, marked by acute paranoid schizophrenia, is known to us thanks to the film "A Beautiful Mind." Aware of his illness, Nash fought against it and developed a successful academic career that earned him the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1994.







Last Updated on:
Mon Nov 4, 2019