July celebrated the month we celebrate Disability Pride: from the corporate world to politics to sports to the Hollywood red carpet. And with 15% of the world’s population identifying as a person with a disability, there has been a growing movement to highlight the amazing people within this large and diverse community.
In this spirit of intersectionality, let’s celebrate some larger than life disabled women who’ve overcome major odds, moved mountains and are making a major impact, paving the way as role-models for future generations to come.
Ali Stroker (Broadway)
Ali is the first actress who uses a wheelchair for mobility to appear on a Broadway stage and to be nominated for and win a Tony Award. Stroker appeared as a guest star on Glee in 2013 and played Anna in Deaf West Theatre’s 2015 revival of Spring Awakening. She won the 2019 Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical for her performance in Oklahoma!
Marlee Matlin (Hollywood)
Marlee is an award winning actress, author, and deaf activist. For playing Sarah Norman in the 1996 romantic drama film Children of a Lesser God, she won the Academy Award and Golden Globe Award for Best Actress, becoming the only deaf performer to have won an Academy Award as well as the youngest Best Actress winner. Matlin also received two additional Golden Globe nominations, and four Emmy nominations. Deaf since she was 18 months old, she is also a prominent member of the National Association of the Deaf.
Lachi is an award winning Dance Music recording artist and music video creator, who’s SONY and Warner Music releases have debuted on national Dance charts. Seated on the Recording Academy’s Advocacy Committee, Lachi advocates for disability inclusion and equity in the music industry. Named a “Blind Influencer ” by Influencive for her unapologetic brand of disability pride, Lachi has also been featured in the New York Times, Huffington Post, and American Songwriter for her work bringing disability inclusion in music into mainstream discussion.
Tammy Duckworth (Politics)
Ladda Tammy Duckworth is an American politician and retired Army National Guard lieutenant colonel serving as the junior United States Senator from Illinois since 2017. A combat veteran of the Iraq War, she served as a U.S. Army helicopter pilot, where in 2004, she lost both of her legs. Tammy is the first Thai American woman elected to Congress, the first person born in Thailand elected to Congress, the first woman with a disability elected to Congress, the first female double amputee in the Senate, and the first senator to give birth while in office.
Danielle Perez (Comedy)
Danielle is a stand-up comic, actress, and writer who uses a wheelchair for mobility. Perez participated in CBS’s 2020 Diversity Sketch Comedy Showcase and has credits on ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live!, MTV’s Decoded, NBC’s StandUp, A Little Late with Lilly Singh and Buzzfeed. She’s also been profiled by CNN, Great Big Story, and Whohaha, was the face of Refinery29’s 2016 #TakeBackTheBeach campaign and in 2018 was named one of the 13 Powerful Women Who Are Making LA a Better Place by Los Angeles Magazine.
Lucy Edwards (Content Creation)
Lucy is a UK-based journalist, vlogger, viral TikTok creator and owner of the Blind Not Broken brand sharing videos on how a blind person does everyday tasks. Since launching her TikTok channel in 2020, Lucy has gained a lot of attention including features in the BBC and New York Times. Edwards’ videos have amassed millions of views, bringing the conversation of Blindness to a new level in the content creation space.
Beatrice Hess (Sports)
Béatrice is a French Paralympic swimmer, named one of the “best swimmers in the world” by. The French newspaper L’Humanité. Hess has cerebral palsy, and competes in the S5 disability classification at the Paralympic Games. She took home four gold medals in 1984, one in 1988, gained six in 1996, seven in 2000, and at the 2004 Games, she won two gold and three silver medals. She also broke nine world records at the 2000 Paralympics in Sydney. With over 20 gold medals, Hess was also nominated for the Laureus World Sports Award for Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability.