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Saida Ahmed: Act 2

“It’s all about taking the time to listen to others, to hear and to understand what they need.”

Swizzle and Swoosh

Being in a chair has influenced my experiences in the film industry in a massive way. I have to remember that I’m not like everyone else, but I’m also not that different. I have to work with what I have, without overdoing it to a point where everything is unbearable. When I was playing the lead role in Little Miss Burden, I put quite a lot of pressure on myself. I established that my energy levels dropped. I had to figure out that sometimes it was better for me to be on a different schedule to the other actors, and that was okay. To be my best self, both on and off stage I needed more time to rejuvenate. This was a challenging process at times, but my support crew were amazing. In fact, my director always used non-able-bodied words to get me through. The word for example, ‘swizzle’ on stage or ‘swoosh’. This care and effort made me feel comfortable because you establish that, yes, you are different but in a good way.

Directors and producers in the industry need to pave the way for making disabled performers feel comfortable. It’s genuinely getting better, but there is loads of room for improvement as well. People casting and managing shows need to realise that disabled performers have different needs to able bodied performers, like energy levels for example. You probably need to give a disabled performer a lot more time. And that’s me not saying I need a lot more attention, that’s just me acknowledging what I need, that’s a strength. I think that if they could just have a space in their mind to think what it’s like for a disabled performer, put themselves in our shoes, the industry would be developing exponentially in this area. It’s all about taking the time to listen to others, to hear and to understand what they need. There is so much to us as disabled individuals and if they could just give us a chance to prove that, I believe this industry would be the best industry out there.

So, at the moment, around march, I’m not allowed to specify- I’ll get in trouble- I’m going to be doing a digital project around homosexuality, which is interesting. The project talks about disability within sexuality as well. I think not many people realise disabled people can be sexual, they tend to shy away from it because they don’t know how it works. So, I think it’s a privilege to be in something like that because it gives people an insight into the fact that disability and sexuality can go together if you just open your mind. I’m excited for all the new challenges to come.

Written by Holly for Saida (@saisai_saida)

Little Miss Burden (Written by Matilda Ibini and Directed by Debbie Hannan) was a stage production performed at The Bunker in 2019

Saida Ahmed is represented by Global 7 Women Agency (@g7women)


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