Being born with dwarfism, typecasting is something I have always resisted. Despite having a voice over career spanning some 25 years, every now and then I get an odd reaction from some clients when I turn up to a gig for the first time. Or more frustratingly, I get offered on-camera roles that are frankly just offensive.
Like the time a “client” called my agent with a “so called” job opportunity.
The conversation went something like this:
“We've got a great part in a commercial for Lofty.”
“Ah, no he wont do it.”
“But it’s a really tasteful piece.”
“He won't do it.”
“Can you at least get him to have a look at it?”
“Okay, I will if you send it through, but whatever it is I can tell you now his not going to do it.”
“But it’s really good, really clever and really tastefully done.”
The job details arrived at my agent's office and it was exactly the type of role my agent and I had feared. It was a role in a foot odor commercial. The premise: people are standing on a packed bus, the camera pans along the line and then down to me standing there too and back up to the next tall person in line. The gag was- if anyone is going to smell foot odor first “of course” it would have been me. Just in case this bit needs further explaining, I'm “obviously” closer to other people's feet than everyone else.
To her credit my agent binned it before it got to me, but she did tell me the background and hence why I never saw it.
"I get offered on-camera roles that are frankly just offensive"
In the entertainment industry it's assumed people born with dwarfism would all be over-joyed at the prospect of playing the role of a circus freak. To the credit of my agents both past and present, they have been exceptional gatekeepers when it has come to keeping the insensitive morons from the door. Occasionally however, the odd one still slips through.
You would also be amazed at the conversations I have with people about dwarfism. It's often assumed that we “must all know each other” or “I saw you in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs…which one were you?”
Contrary to popular opinion, not all dwarves know each other, we don't all play in pantomimes and no I'm not that guy in Game of Thrones or Jack Ass. Believe me, these conversations have all actually happened.
It may well sound like I'm jaded and cynical about the way the world is. I have done my best to smash the expectations the world places on me with the proverbial sledgehammer. However, I have also come to accept that people will always do what they do and you can't change other people you can only change how you react to them. As the saying goes “don't let the turkeys get ya down.”
I am in a really good space. I have a career that I love and it's not dependent on what I look like or how tall I am. I love my life and share it with the woman I always introduce as “the love of my life”. Believe me, to wake up each day and look forward to going to work is indeed a blessing I am very grateful for.
Most people, black, white, short, tall, slim, fat, blonde, brunette and everything in between spend their life looking for what I have been so blessed to be given. Did I find it straight away? Of course not! You've got to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your princess or prince.