Northampton actress finds personal success despite disabilities

Northampton actress finds personal success despite disabilities

MSNBC.com via PhillyBurbs.com | July 18, 2011 | By Manasee Wagh

She has performed in Italy and off-Broadway, to glowing reviews in the New York Times. She can sing, too, and fondly recalls belting out the national anthem before a Phillies game.

A 2000 graduate of Council Rock High School, Shannon DeVido of Northampton is fulfilling her childhood dream of becoming an actress.

It just doesn’t matter that DeVido, 29, was born with spinal muscular atrophy, a degenerative disease that causes the muscles to deteriorate over time. Rather than interfering with the life she wants to lead, she said the genetic condition has felt more like a minor setback that she revels in beating.

“It’s a very interesting thing to be in a wheelchair in this business. It’s very different, and I find myself fighting all the time for parts. Actresses in wheelchairs have a challenge, getting casting directors to look past that. But it’s good to have a challenge because it makes you stronger,” she said.

While DeVido earns her living working at the Apple store in Philadelphia, her passion lies in performance. She knows her experience wouldn’t be that different even if she were up and walking around, she said.

“Every actor goes through rejection. It’s 95 percent rejection. But I love it way too much to give up. I can’t imagine myself doing anything else,” she said.

The disease isn’t something she chooses to focus on, DeVido said. “I don’t like to talk about my disability very often. It’s not my sole purpose in life. I’m not going to let it stop me,” she said.

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