Cliché: How did you originally become involved with modeling and acting?
Gerald Isaac Walters:I first caught the acting bug at age 12. My mother was directing the annual Church Christmas play and that year’s production was a play called Christmas Shoes. After that first show needless to say I was absolutely hooked!
Was there a specific moment when you knew acting was what you wanted to pursue as a career?
The most specific moment I knew acting was a career I wanted to pursue was when my uncle showed me the movie The Mask starring Jim Carrey. I remember laughing and realizing how much fun he was having and was given so much joy in that experience. In that moment I knew that’s what I wanted to give people: a brief pause in their life no matter what was going on to laugh and enjoy themselves for an hour or so.
Talk about your new movie, All Together Now, and your character, Chad.
All Together Now is the movie we all need right now. It’s a movie showing us strength in numbers and lending a helping hand to those closest to us. Chad Fox is a great and devoted friend. He’s the kind of guy you want on your side. He’s passionate about his friends and willing to do whatever it takes!
What message do you think the movie has to offer on seeking out help, especially now when the pandemic is creating more isolation than ever?
This movie shows us that even the strongest of people need help and that it’s okay to accept help. This is especially true now during the pandemic. It’s ok to say “hey I’m struggling right now” and reach out to those closest and together overcome those obstacles.
What would you say to someone who feels pressure to conceal their struggles or living circumstances in order to succeed or be accepted?
To the person who feels the need to conceal struggles or fear of acceptance, I’d say to embrace those fears and confide in someone close to them. Having someone you can confide in with confidence helps you not only be able to talk through those fears but gives you the ability to hear them out loud and the confidence to start to tackle them head-on.
On a personal note, you became paralyzed five years ago following an accident. How did you learn to ask for help? What did the support of friends and family mean to you during this time?
After my accident, it took me a long time to learn how and more importantly when to ask for help. It started by me fully trusting the close circle of friends I surrounded myself with and leaning on my strong family. I will say I would not be here without the full support of my family and friends. When you pour all of yourself into those relationships and the time comes when you need them most they pour right back into you, that is the key to overcoming whatever obstacle you face in your life.
One of the difficulties of adjusting to life with a disability is that many people assume that disability is all about living a life of limitations. Do you have any words of encouragement for people who are trying to adapt to life with an injury and constantly hearing the word “no”?
If you’re feeling any limitations, I suggest listening to your inner voice telling you YES YOU CAN. Yes, times get hard. Yes, life has thrown you a curveball, but you’re a conqueror. You are capable of more than you know! When you align your mind with your strong will, nothing and no one can stop you. Prove the people telling you “no” wrong. Dig deep and show them you’re a force to reckon with!!
How can the entertainment industry work to better acknowledge and accommodate folks with disabilities?
The entertainment industry can better acknowledge and accommodate people with disabilities by simply giving us a voice. Giving us a chance to represent ourselves on-screen and print and showing that inclusion matters.
What motivates you to strive to be your best self?
The thing that motivates me to strive to be my best self is the fact that my niece and nephews are looking up to me. I could be an example to them to overcome any and every obstacle in their lives. And the chance for anyone in a similar circumstance to be given hope that even the biggest dreams are possible and attainable.
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Gerald Isaac Walters is the Friend We All Deserve in “All Together Now.” Photo Credit: Kelly Balch.