I had the privilege of interviewing George Alevizos, a thriving 22-year-old actor living in Toronto, Ontario with an undiagnosed neuromuscular disorder affecting his lower limbs. Despite being in a wheelchair, George has premiered in TV series Star Trek: Discovery and has done advertisements for companies like Hallmark, CIBC and Scotiabank.
Adam: Hi, George! I really appreciate you taking the time out of your busy schedule to sit down with me. Alright, so why don’t you tell us a bit about yourself?
George: Hey, Adam! Thanks for interviewing me for your blog. Yes of course! So my name is George Alevizos, I am 22, I live In Toronto, and I’m currently out of school. I’ve just graduated from the UofT/Sheridan Theatre Performance program. I am a full-time actor now, and in my spare time, I like to keep active. I love going for walks, swimming, and I am a sit ski racer in the winter.
Adam: That’s awesome, George! I think it’s important for people to know how many physical activities people in wheelchairs can still do. Can you tell us a little bit about what your disability is? As I say to everyone, please only go into as much detail as you feel comfortable talking about.
George: Well, Adam, the truth is there isn’t any diagnosis for my condition: I’m a rare case. I was born with severe clubbed feet and dislocated hips, but I went immediately into surgery when I was born. Every test they’ve done for me for EVERY medical case came back negative. The thing is that I can feel my legs normally, but I just can’t walk without holding onto something or using a walker. But on the bright side, it’s not genetic and I am not getting any weaker.
Adam: I love that positivity, George! Throughout your life of being in a wheelchair, what are challenges you’ve encountered and what did you do to overcome those challenges?
George: Well, there’s so much that this interview would not be able to cover. Accessibility, social constructs, the entertainment industry, relationships, being in a wheelchair has affected everything. My whole life, I’ve literally said, “f*** off” to all these setbacks and pushed myself to become the man I wanted to become, and not let anyone set the expectations for me. I said to myself that “I put myself in my own box, motherf*****s,” and “I’ll do what I very well please to do in life.” If I want to be on TV, I will do it and I have done it, and because of that mentality, I find that the opportunities are endless! People with disabilities are just scared to fight back and DO THE S**T, and I say, why? The world’s ready, we are ready to have our voice heard.
Adam: I love your outlook, it’s really motivating. You mentioned the entertainment industry being a challenge. Can you expand on your experiences with this?
George: As an actor with a disability, there are SO many barriers that are ongoing even to this day. For example, I can’t even physically get into the majority of Film and TV casting houses because of their lack of accessibility, and that’s a major problem. I end up having to move my audition or I need to self-tape, which is disadvantageous and frustrating. Secondly, it’s the stereotypes that feed media into making these terrible storylines that basically offer the same thing: a guy who is self-pitied and doesn’t live life, a medical case, or the “Bad guy”. Why can’t we just be humans who live life? Why does a wheelchair or disability have to be the centre of the storyline? That’s just one example of many problems that I face as a human being. We need to do more to include proper representation with people with disabilities.
Adam: I think what you’re saying is so important because I don’t think a lot of people know how difficult it can be to have this societal pressure on your back limiting you in more ways than one. So, what would you say is a common misconception about your disability? And what do you want others to know?
George: People see that I’m in a wheelchair, and BAM: They think I’m incapable or paralyzed. Or they have misconceptions about how I perform in the bedroom, but if people got to know me, they would realize that I am A LOT more capable then what people “seem” to believe because of stupid stereotypes. It’s instilled in society, people don’t say it, but they think these things sub-conciously, and we need to stop that.
Adam: What advice would you offer to a someone younger than you with your disability?
George: Just do it. You literally can do anything you want in life if you work at it and find ways to make it work for you. Break down those barriers and don’t fall in the trap of self-pity: you got this.
Adam: Awesome, thank you so much for your time, George! It’s been such a pleasure!
George: Thanks, Adam! Have a great day!