Most people think I got the name “Teal” because my eyes are so green. The truth is I was named after my dad’s favorite breed of duck to hunt, Teal. I’m not joking. My father named me after an animal he enjoyed killing.
I grew up just outside of Knoxville, Tennessee in a cool log home that my parents designed on 4 acres of land.
Now here’s the not so great news. When I was 14, three high school friends and I were on our way to see a Labor Day fireworks show when we got into a terrible car accident. I broke my back and became a paraplegic.
After that, my life changed drastically. Thankfully, I went to Shepherd Center, one of the best rehab centers in the country. With time, hard work, and the support of my family and friends, I became fully independent in my wheelchair.
I went to college at Oglethorpe University in Atlanta and that’s where I caught the acting bug. If I wasn’t performing in plays like The House of Bernarda Alba and Antigone, I was stage-managing, selling tickets or ushering.
I also performed with Full Radius Dance Company, a physically integrated (using dancers with and without disabilities) professional modern dance company.
While still living in Atlanta, I was cast in my first Hollywood film, HBO’s Emmy Award winning Warm Springs—starring Kenneth Branagh, Cynthia Nixon, and Kathy Bates.
Click here and you’ll find an article I wrote about my experience on the set with Ken. (And yes, he lets me call him “Ken”!)
Shortly after that, I moved to Los Angeles with my black cat Scarlett.
While there, I was cast as a series regular on the NBC Universal comedy pilot I’m with Stupid. It was developed by the Farrelly Brothers and the director was Linwood Boomer, the creator of Malcolm in the Middle. I also did my first national commercial for Liberty Mutual. It was directed by Laurence Dunmore, the director of The Libertine with Johnny Depp. Click here to view it.
I also appeared on stage with Dustin Hoffman, James Cromwell, Annette Bening, and Richard Schiff in American Voices at The Broad Stage in Santa Monica.
You should also know I was a founding member of Blue Zone Productions - a theatre company that promoted actors with disabilities. I got to play the role of “Honey” in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? at the NoHo Arts Center.
I also produced and starred in the Pulitzer Prize winning play Proof. I’m the first person with a disability to play the lead role of Catherine. Check out our review in LA WEEKLY.
My favorite acting role is playing "Venom" in Felicia Day's groundbreaking web series, The Guild. Playing a villian on wheels is the best and I got to work with Wil Wheaton.
The most rewarding experience I've had is creating My Gimpy Life - an online comedy series loosely based on my life. You can watch all episodes here on our YouTube Channel. I won the 2013 "Best Female Comedy Performance" at the International Academy of Web Television Awards and My Gimpy Life a part of college curriculums all over the world.
I currently live in Seattle with my husband, our son River, and our German Shepherd. I am on the Board of Directors of Seattle Public Theater and am a regular contributor to New Mobility Magazine. Acting, writing, and advocating for the inclusion for performers with disabilities continues to be my biggest passion..