My name is Rachael Abbott and I am an actor with a vision disability. Thank you for checking out my page! I am raising funds for a rare opportunity to attend the FIRST ever professional acting training program for people with vision disabilities called Access Acting Academy. Check it out :) www.accessacting.com. These funds will be used for housing, food, and transportation. The program is in January in Los Angeles so I’m hoping you can help.
This is a unique and incredible opportunity for me. For anyone who doesn’t know me, I was born with a vision disability that runs in my family. I audioned for the intensive program at the end of November, and with a lot of submissions from all over the world and only 12 spaces for the program, I got in!!!! The program is 5 weeks long. After the program, I will stay a few extra days to see eye doctors at UCLA who specialize in my vision disability.
Lately, people with disabilities are being included more and casted authentically in film/TV. There is still a lot that needs to change to make film/TV inclusive and I want to be a part of creating that change.
I know some people don’t want to read long posts so below is more of my story if you are interested. Thank you to everyone who has supported and encouraged me to keep persevering in my music/acting skills.Thank you for sharing my fundraising page! Thank you for considering donating. Happy Holidays!!!! :)
When I was born....just kidding I’m not starting at the beginning.:)
In my story, I was always encouraged to pursue classes and things that would lead to a “normal, secure job” because of my vision disability to ensure I had adult things like health insurance, a job, money, a place to live, etc. The phrases, “Follow Your dreams" or "You can be whatever you want” never seemed to apply to me. I tried being what others wanted me to be or what culture perceived or thought a low vision person should be. I have always been low vision, but when my vision began to decrease (which I did not expect), I decided to do whatever it took to make those phrases apply to me.
Even though I don’t have a lot of self-confidence, I am determined and resilient. I started out getting my Associates Degree in Music and then taking the acting classes offered at community college. I can’t tell my story without sharing that I experienced incredible challenges and difficult moments in these classes because of accessibility and accommodation issues. I made it through those time with the support and encouragement of amazing friends and some wonderful teachers. I am in this place today because of them - because they believed in me!
Those times made me a stronger person. They made me want to pursue acting and music more. It gave me a voice in advocating for inclusion in the arts. Academia treats accommodations and accessibility for arts related classes the same as they would a general education class like history for example, but arts related class accommodations can be and often are different - especially for students with vision disabilities.
The great thing is that I can use these negative experiences in positive ways to help other students with disabilities and have open discussions with teachers and disability student services. In May 2018 as part of a class I created a 45 minute one person show around the theme of vision disabilities in the arts. I performed scenes from the play Butterflies Are Free, I wrote an introduction about the importance of inclusion in the arts and my experience at community college and I had an extremely talented musician friend who is blind compose a medley to go with my scenes and showcase his talents. This was a very empowering moment for me. It was amazing to share my talent, my story, and bring awareness to vision disabilities and the arts.
Then in September 2018 and 2019 I had the honor to be part of the Theatre For All Program at Queens Theatre, Queens, NY. Theatre For All is the FIRST acting training program for actors with disabilities. It was so amazing to be a part of it!!!! It was so freeing to just perform, to learn from others, to meet other actors with different disabilities, to participate in classes, and to focus on acting. Theatre For All opened a path I thought was closed to me. So here I am now going to Los Angeles for an intensive acting program for actors with vision disabilities! Thank you everyone who believes in me! Thank you Theatre For All family!