“I got 99 problems and palsy is just one.”
Palestinian-American actress Maysoon Zayid has Cerebral palsy, a disorder that affects movement and is caused by brain damage that can occur during childbirth.
As a young girl, Maysoon was told that she would never walk. However, her parents did not believe in the word “can’t” and made sure she was given every opportunity in life.
Despite the struggles she has faced, Maysoon’s always kept a positive attitude and looked for the laughter in every situation. As an aspiring actress she was unhappy with the lack of roles presented to people who are ethnic and disabled, so Zayid began creating her own opportunities.
She co-founded the New York Arab American Comedy Festival to change the image of Arabs portrayed in American media and was invited to be a guest on Countdown with Keith Olbermann—eventually given to opportunity to be a full-time contributor.
It was during this time that Maysoon saw how harsh people could be while hiding behind their computer screens. She was never made fun of as a child or even as an adult, but was shocked by people’s comments. “Suddenly, my disability on the world wide web is fair game,” she says.
Of course, Maysoon Zayid didn’t let the trolls deter her. She continues to fight for equal representation of people with disabilities in the media. Another major focus for Maysoon is giving back: Her organization, Maysoon’s Kids, works to give Palestinian refugee children a chance, just like her parents gave her.
Watch her incredibly inspiring TED Talk below!