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Sawsan Zakaria was diagnosed with a neuromuscular disease called spinal muscular atrophy type II when she was 15 months old. She grew up in Chicago and graduated from Illinois State University with a focus on broadcast journalism/public relations though has a true passion for disability advocacy, modeling, and acting. She uses her disability as a positive asset to her image. People with disabilities are often portrayed negatively or inaccurately and she wants to breaks the stereotypes and stigmas that society has created.
“We are human. We are emotional. We make mistakes. We have careers. We can think. We can communicate. We breathe. We laugh. We cry.”
A lot of people, disabled or not, are too afraid to speak up or speak out against socials “norms,” and Sawsan plans to help change that perspective because she wants people to see that she is not defined by her disability. She defines IT. People who are not disabled will never understand Sawsan’s perspective of the world and her realities unless they can live it or read about it. Sawsan chooses to share her story through film and print to show people there’s more than just one reality in this colorful world.
Sawsan recently moved to Los Angeles to continue to make change in Hollywood for people with disabilities and be a voice worldwide.