Cerebral Palsy Inspiration: Famous Faces Who Live With the Disorder
5 Min Read
Cerebral palsy can affect both physical and mental function but it doesn’t need to stop those who have the condition from living life. There are people with cerebral palsy working in many industries, but the most visible of all are those who work in entertainment. Here are some of the incredible celebrities who you can find on stage and screen, or behind the wheel of a racing car!
Francesca is a comedian with cerebral palsy who appeared in the series Extras alongside Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant. The first winner of the Daily Telegraph’s Open Mic Award at the Edinburgh Festival, she was also nominated for two national book awards for her first book, “What the **** is Normal?”. She has performed across the world, and appeared on a host of national TV programmes, including a winning appearance on Celebrity Pointless.
She is due to star in her own play this summer, and you can find out more details about her here.
An actor perhaps most famous for playing Walter Jr in the TV show ‘Breaking Bad’, for which he shared a win of the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series. RJ sustained brain damage at birth and was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy at the age of 3. He has had extensive therapy to maximise his potential and to help him with body control.
It is medically recognised that early diagnosis and intervention can help children with CP to develop more normal movement. At Enable Law we support the work of Action Cerebral Palsy to raise awareness of the need for early diagnosis and therapy.
RJ has also modelled for both Gap and Vivienne Westwood, regularly works with disability charities and is keen to maximise opportunities for others with a disability. It is important to him that people with disabilities are given opportunities as they grow up to build their self-esteem.
Rosie is also a comedian who uses humour about her disability to raise awareness of important issues. Rosie has presented shows for Channel 4 which looked at the state of accessibility in the UK through the lens of helping disabled people to plan adventures. She also recently appeared with a friend who is a wheelchair user on Joe Lycett’s Got Your Back to illustrate how difficult it is for wheelchair users to find a suitable rental property.
2022 is set to be a very busy year for Rosie, who has just had the pilot episode for her new comedy Disability Benefits added to All4, the Channel 4 streaming service, will be filming a new series of her travel show Trip Hazard, presenting cooking show Dine Hard, and she is leading on a new documentary about the everyday abuse faced by people with disabilities in the UK.
In 2021 her first children’s book “The Amazing Adventures of Edie Eckhart” was published. The main character is a young girl with cerebral palsy, created to inspire other young people who have CP but no role models.
American-born, UK-based comedian Tim stars in Jerk, which airs on the BBC in the UK. Tim has Athetoid cerebral palsy, which affects his speech and balance, and causes involuntary moments. In both the show and his stand-up comedy he tries to dispel myths about people with disabilities through the unusual approach of being as offensive as possible.
As he said to The Guardian in 2019 when interviewed about the first series of Jerk, “If someone like me is your hero, then you’ve really made mistakes.”
Both series of Jerk are still available to watch on BBC iPlayer.
Christy also suffered from cerebral palsy following oxygen starvation at birth. Although initially incapable of movement or speech, with the help of his mother he learned to read, write and talk. He gained left foot control which allowed him to become a famous poet, author and painter.
His life story was the subject of the film ‘My Left Foot’, starring Daniel Day-Lewis, which is based on his autobiography of the same name.
Many will know the name Lewis Hamilton, but his half-brother
Nicolas is also a racing driver. Nicolas was born with cerebral palsy and was told that he would never walk, but through hard work in therapy sessions by the age of 17 he could walk completely unaided.
Nic made his racing debut in 2011, with his first season the subject of a BBC documentary. In 2015 he became the first person with a disability to compete in the British Touring Car Championship.
Sophia became a British Paralympian after starting to run competitively aged 19 and came 4th in the London 2012 Paralympics 200m sprint final.
She has since become commercial director of UK Athletics, launched Para Triathlon events and is an Ambassador for The Children’s Trust.
When she was a teenager Tegan noticed that people would stare at her because they didn’t understand her disability and were uncomfortable approaching her to ask questions. In order to help everyone understand cerebral palsy a little better, she created a cartoon explaining her differences.
Now a young lady, she aspires to compete as a para-dressage rider. Followed by BBC Sport’s Generation Next, who follow a group of inspirational young athletes, she continues her work to educate both her social media followers and the wider public as she documents life as a disabled woman. She has also recently starred in a Netflix documentary: Tegan: Dreams of the Paralympics.
It’s clear that cerebral palsy is no match for the talent and determination they all hold. You can find out more about our work with people with cerebral palsy on our dedicated page.