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Meet Ali Stroker: the First Actress in a  Wheelchair to Perform on Broadway

Digital Media company Mashable produces original documentaries highlighting “compelling individuals and emerging movements from around the world.” Ali Stroker, best known as a contender and runner up in the second season of The Glee Project in 2012 and her subsequent role as “Betty” on Glee, discusses what it means to her to be the first actor to use a wheelchair on broadway stage because of a mobility issue. Her commentary reflects the fact that, in the past, able bodied actors have used wheelchairs on a broadway stage to perform disability. The video follows Stroker moving around New York City, intercut with clips of rehearsals, on stage in Spring Awakening playing Anna, in her home, and in a talking head interview.  The audio of the talking head interview is played throughout the video. She speaks about her experiences of using her wheelchair, working in the theater industry, growing up using a wheelchair from the age of two, and what it means to “fit in.” She ends with the statement “at the end of the day, if they’re not ready for me, why would I want to be a part of it.”

discussion

What issues is this video trying to highlight by using Ali Stroker and showing her everyday life experiences?

How does Ali discuss the industry’s treatment of her disability?

What does the video convey about Ali’s own growth around how she views her disability?

What do we learn about mainstream theater, given the fact that Ali Stroker is the first person who uses a wheelchair on a Broadway stage? Did this surprise you? Do you think other industries are also lagging in their representation and inclusion of disabled individuals?