Every month we celebrate a different community and the contributions of one member to the work of creating a more inclusive world. October was National Arts & Humanities Month (NAHM). To celebrate, KIT Inclusion Support Specialist, Laura Jenks, MS, shines the KIT Spotlight brightly on Ali Stroker, actress, singer, and 2019 Tony Award winner.
Although we missed our KIT Spotlight for October which was National Arts and Humanities Month (NAHM), we believe that every month is a good time to recognize the importance of culture in our day-to-day life. So, I am excited to shine the KIT Spotlight on actress Ali Stroker. Ali Stroker became the first actress in a wheelchair to win a Tony Award in 2019 for her performance of Anna in the Oklahoma! revival. She then went on to play a romantic lead in a the 2020 Lifetime Christmas classic Christmas Ever After. What these two achievements have in common are that neither of the characters were written to be played by an actor in a wheelchair.
Currently, 95% of characters with disabilities are portrayed by actors who do not themselves have a disability. This is a problem. Representation is important to culture. Stroker does not only seek out roles of characters with disabilities. She looks for roles that speak to her and then helps directors understand how the disability experience, while unique, is universal to our humanity and can fit within many roles. By starring in these roles, she brings an authentic representation of disability to the screen and stage.
Next up for Stroker, she has been tapped to star as disability rights icon Judy Heumann in a new biopic based on her memoir, Being Heumann. This will be a revival role for Stroker, who portrayed Heumann in a great episode of Drunk History.
Whether representing disability rights icons or romantic leads, Ali Stroker is paving the way for disabled actors everywhere.