Legally Blind Actor Finds Success in Chicago Theater (video)


jay_worthington-headshot-legally-blind-actorLike many Chicago actors, Jay Worthington is proud to be able to say “I am an actor in the city.”  Unlike most of them, Worthington is legally blind.

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The twenty-nine year-old Worthington, who has been legally blind since birth, is a graduate from the school at Steppenwolf Theater.  He is a member of the Gift Theatre ensemble since 2011 and has starred in productions such as One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.  He has also taught acting and directed plays.

Worthington describes his limited sight as, “I read large prints, I have glasses, [but]I don’t drive. I am legally blind and my eyes are very sensitive to light and there’s the erratic movements. It has also caused legal blindness.”  He confesses that throughout his life he had been told that because of his blindness he could not become an actor, saying, “I have had actually a couple well-known figures in Chicago tell me, [and]a couple professors in college tell me, cause of my disability I would never have a career in this.  I am happy to have proven all of them wrong.”

Surprisingly, Worthington has actually embraced roles that have made it even harder for him to see on stage than it already is for him.  He explains, “The last play I did here I played a character who was completely blind. The character was a soul, the soul of a human who had just passed away. I had make up over my face I couldn’t see a thing at all. I did that show completely blind. It was interesting how that kind of forces you to encounter your disability.”

While Worthington loves his experience with The Gift Theatre, he is hoping to expand his horizons.  “I am really happy doing what I am doing right now and, of course, I want to go on to do bigger and better things. But I am so happy with the Gift and the artistic home.”

via ABC Chicago

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