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How I Felt Seeing an Actor Limping on 'The Chosen'

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Sometimes I’m asked if I’m limping, usually at the end of a long day. I can honestly say “no” because I’m not limping in pain. My scoliosis makes me wonky, and when I’m tired it’s harder to hide. But who wants to explain all that? I often answer, “Oh no, I’m fine!”

Because of this, I easily notice abnormalities in other people’s walks. That happened a few months ago while watching my favorite show, “The Chosen.” I noticed something different about actor Jordan Walker Ross, who plays Jesus’ disciple, Little James. I later learned that Jordan deals with cerebral palsy, severe scoliosis, and had a spinal fusion at age 7.

I’ve written here on The Mighty about my scoliosis, which is minor compared to Jordan’s. I know how common it is, and how we are not alone. We’re bent, but not broken… I know the drill. And with all that, sometimes I get bogged down with all the usual feelings. Seeing Jordan’s limp on-screen even for a moment was a huge mental shift for me, and here are a few reasons why.

I felt surprise. Even though scoliosis isn’t rare, I realized it’s rare to see actors and celebrities with physical differences. I get tired of my culture’s ridiculous and unnatural image standards. It was refreshing to see a “normal” person in the inner circle of a global show.

I felt normalized. Simply by seeing Jordan’s inclusion in the show, I felt seen. I felt included. I felt valued. It feels weird to admit that, but it’s true. I felt less alone.

I felt courage. Jordan has spoken candidly with his fans on social media and his podcast. He experiences the same struggles as the rest of us, and he’s sharing his story because he knows it will help people. He’s using his platform to encourage others to overcome the challenges and insecurities they face. He could have chosen an easier road, but he’s fighting his insecurities and looking outward to see who he can help.

I felt anticipation. It was exciting to think that as the show grows, others may be impacted the same way. Around the time I started watching, the show’s view counter was in the 50 million range. Now it’s skyrocketing to over 285 million, and they’re aiming to reach a billion viewers. That’s a lot of impact!

I felt challenged. Jordan has shared how he has been bullied, insulted, and excluded from jobs because of his differences. Despite that, he’s worked hard to build a successful career. When apathy is calling my name, I need to remember to not make excuses for myself. I don’t want to hold myself back due to fear, frustration with my health, or worries about what others might think. Jordan didn’t make it onto the show by sitting at home feeling sorry for himself. Just seeing him onscreen was a subtle message of, “Get off your duff.”

I felt understood. As the show entered Season 2, I was even more intrigued to see how Jordan’s physical “maladies” were written into the First Century storyline. It was surreal to hear big questions of faith, miracles, and chronic illness that I’ve grappled with for years coming out of the characters’ mouths. Maybe it’s an unusual plotline to fan-girl about, but I was cheering them on. It was even more meaningful that the mental, emotional, and spiritual aspects of chronic illness were being included, and not just the physical.

I felt grateful. I’m not alone in being thankful for Jordan’s willingness to be an encouraging force. We know he’s worked hard to overcome many obstacles, and now his story will be a vehicle for more awareness, connection, and compassion as well as a great example to follow. I’m also grateful that the creators of the show didn’t ignore Jordan’s health or treat it as a prop. Instead, they chose to weave into the storyline as part of a normal person’s experience.

That’s a lot of feelings! This experience was a first for me, and as I wrote out my reaction, I couldn’t brush off what it means for me. I should look for ways to encourage others who need to know they are seen, valued, and not alone. I should let this influence my creative writing and storytelling. Now that I know how much even a small moment of recognition can mean, I should take the next opportunity to pay it forward.

Image via Facebook.

Originally published: February 1, 2022
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