Reach For The Stars
I'm just back from a two week break in Jamaica with reggae music dancing in my brain, beaches and plam trees on my mind, and rum cocktails still fresh in my liver and kidneys. Bliss!
While I was away an actor named James Moore from the TV Soap Emmerdale won Newcomer Of The Year at the National TV Awards. He is an extraordinary young man who lives with a condition known as Ataxia. It affects his speech and movement but he doesn't let it stop him from grabbing life by the scruff of the neck. I interviewed him recently for my Sunday Post coulmn, and I thought I'd share with you our chat. Be inspired!
In his first major role, actor James plays Ryan Stocks in ITV’s Emmerdale. He has a condition known as Ataxic Cerebral Palsy, and his storyline initially majored on this disability, though he is seen more and more now as just another character. He actively campaigns for people with disabilities, and advocates access to more opportunities.
How did you get in to acting?
I was always a fan of TV drama and movies so I did drama at school and amateur dramatics. I eventually got in to the National Theatre, but because of my disability I assumed it wouldn’t go any further. There were no disabled actors on TV.
So what did you do?
I studied photography at University as people said I was good at it. I combined my photos with drama, and I put on exhibitions.
I did a project on my fear of drowning, and had some friends waterboard me. I sewed my legs together for another one to explore why my limbs don’t work. I like the shock value of drama.
That’s a bit extreme, no?
I had fun. I was asked why I hurt myself, and it’s because I wanted immersed in it. When my parents came to the exhibitions it all clicked for them.
Were your school days happy?
I had full time support so I stood out like a sore thumb, and I didn’t have a lot of friends until I was around fifteen when I met more open minded people. I had better fun out of school than in.
Was it easy as an actor to get an agent?
I sent my showreel to agents across the board and not one even replied. Then I targeted those who specialised in actors with disabilities. Only one got back to me, and she was great. She found me the Emmerdale role.
Are you enjoying it?
For sure. I did a scene where I had to hit my Dad with a plank of wood. With my poor coordination it was such a laugh. They’re very accommodating.
What difference has it made to your life?
Shopping used to take half an hour. Now it’s around 90 minutes. Everyone wants to talk or take selfies, and I love it. I feel like a disability ambassador.
What lessons have you learned?
It’s all about self confidence and belief. I’m having the best time because I’m accepting of my disability and nothing’s getting in my way. I don’t hold back or make my own mindset become another obstacle.
You have 24 hours left to live. How do you spend it?
I would put on a performance of my favourite musical, Rent. I’m ready for it right now as I’m word perfect. I’d invite Jack Black and Bonnie Tyler to join me in the cast. That would be perfect.