Actor, producer and equality and diversity activist, RJ Mitte served as the keynote speaker at the “Breaking Boundaries” event Tuesday night to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Mitte said as he offered words of advice, encouragement and hope to the audience in Pierson Auditorium.
“Normal doesn’t exist,” Mitte said.” “People are not normal. We all have these things that define who we are. Disability is always looked on as a weakness, something we need to cure. To me it’s not.”
Diagnosed with mild cerebral palsy since birth, he spent most of his childhood with casts and crutches. By participating in sports, he became stronger and soon did not need either form of support. Mitte has worked his entire life to become an first actor who demonstrates his strengths and how he not only overcame his disability but also embraced it.
Mitte began speaking out on the topic via YouTube and in the media after learning that bullying was at the main cause of several teen suicides in 2010. By launching campaigns such as the “Cut The Bull” campaign, he became a role model for anyone who has faced difficulty and gone on to accomplish greatness in their lives.
“I never allowed what people saw as limitations be what I could actually do,” Mitte said.
From victim to Hollywood, Mitt has turned his disability into an asset and delivers inspirational messages to campus audiences all over the world.
“Do not let fear manipulate you when we should be [lifting] people up,” Mitte said. “It doesn’t do anyone good and it hinders yourself.”
Before leaving the stage, Mitte offered one last piece of advice to students, especially those graduating soon:”Set goals, and having a passion for what you do is key.”
Following his inspirational speech, Mitte answered questions during a short Q&A session prior to a meet-and-greet sponsored by the UMKC Student Government Association and the Office of Student Involvement Leadership Education and Development Series. He posed for pictures and spent personal time with each student.
Mitte even answered the question every “Breaking Bad” fan wanted to know, he does indeed love breakfast, calling bacon not just a breakfast item but a way of life.