While playing disabled characters has been, for the past 27 years at least, a great way for actors to win an Oscar, Americans haven’t actually seen many impaired people on their screens. So when American Horror Story: Freak Show, introduced Mat Fraser as Paul the Illustrated Seal Boy in 2014, it was a challenge for some and a revelation for others. An actor with phocomelia a congenital condition triggered in tens of thousands of children after their mothers used the drug thalidomide for morning sickness, Fraser has short arms and no thumbs. His casting, among others in American Horror Story, triggered a wave think of pieces about the depiction, casting, and exploitation-versus-agency of disability in the media. But although Fraser is a new figure to many Americans, this wasn’t his first rodeo. Long a presence in British media before coming to the States, Fraser has used his art and public profile to push and shape conversations about disability depictions, rights, and equality for years.
Meet the awesome Mat Fraser!
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