Recently, I listened to the audio-book, Walking as Straight as I Can: Transcending Disabilities in Hollywood, an autobiography by Geri Jewel. Geri Jewel is an actor/comedian most famous for starring in The Facts of Life, an 80’s sitcom on NBC. I could relate to a part of her story because she has cerebral palsy and we have had a few shared experiences.
I prefer listening to audiobooks for several reasons. My cerebral palsy can make turning pages difficult and destructive! Although during bonfire season, the crumbled up pages work well for igniting kindling! In addition to cerebral palsy, I also have a visual perception deficit. I need writing to be enlarged. I can enlarge the script on a Kindle, but it is still cumbersome to hold.
My Amazon Echo opens the door, or should I say pages, to many incredible stories. I simply command Alexa to read a book I have on file and SHAZAM!, someone is reading to me! Alexa even keeps my place! This process does not come without its own malfunctions, one time I asked Alexa to open up a book and she ordered a pizza! She is still learning how to speak “CP”!
OK, back to Walking as Straight as I Can: Transcending Disabilities in Hollywood by Geri Jewel. Geri Jewel opens up about her life with cerebral palsy and the challenges she faced as a disabled person in Hollywood. In Walking as Straight as I Can: Transcending Disabilities in Hollywood, Geri Jewel also discusses her hearing impairment and its own set of challenges.
By Geri Jewell
While navigating Hollywood, Geri’s cerebral palsy provided her with many embarrassing stories. However, my favorite story was as a result of her hearing impairment. While performing her stand-up routine, she thought her jokes were bombing. Actually, what happened was her microphone was not working! She did not realize this because of her hearing impairment!
Geri Jewel honestly discussed how she fell prey to some in Hollywood. During the Facts of Life era, a manager stole her earnings. In Walking as Straight as I Can: Transcending Disabilities in Hollywood, Geri bravely opens up about an early sexual assault. These events compounded her anxiety and low self- esteem.
Walking as Straight as I Can: Transcending Disabilities in Hollywood discusses Geri Jewel’s personal struggles, such as an addiction to prescription medication, a troubled married/divorce, financial troubles and coming to terms with her sexual orientation. Despite discussing all of these challenges, Walking as Straight as I Can: Transcending Disabilities in Hollywood is a story of strength, faith and hope.
Geri Jewel is a devout Christian. She credits her faith for getting her through the rough times she faced. I admire Geri Jewel for not allowing her disability, her bad experiences, or her anxiety to interfere with her passion for acting and comedy. She is a pioneer in Hollywood, being one of the first actors with cerebral palsy to have a role on a popular sitcom.
Geri Jewel was the narrator for Walking as Straight as I Can: Transcending Disabilities in Hollywood. I really like the fact that she narrated her own book. Her speech is affected by her cerebral palsy and there were some parts I had difficulty understanding. However, as Dr. Suess would say “There is nobody youer than you” There were a few moments throughout the book, when you could hear her tears through the cracking of her voice. These are the times it feels like she is sitting in my living room telling me her story.
I highly recommend Walking as Straight as I Can: Transcending Disabilities in Hollywood, whether you read the actual book or listen to the audio-book. We sometimes forget that Hollywood stars are real people, with real struggles. Hollywood is not the easy, champagne, hot tub life that television makes it out to be. Geri Jewel experienced and survived the dark side of fame.