Selma Blair is talking about the importance of visibility and accessibility for individuals living with a disability.
The Cruel Intentions star, who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2018, spoke about living with the immune system disease to Self this week. The Dancing With the Stars alum opened up about why she wants to push for more accessibility on sets, such as railings and more frequent bathroom breaks, so that everyone is able to work safely and comfortably. “There’s just so much realizing that people feel that they are a burden, and it takes away from your work,” Blair said. “It takes away from focusing on your right to be there just as much as everyone else on the set. Let’s get used to this. Let’s build this into our base camps.”
While these accessibilities make it easier for her to take jobs, it’s not the only reason why Blair wants to see such change.
“It’s not just so the person in the room can get up there,” Blair explained. “It’s so the viewer at home normalizes that the kid in the wheelchair or the braces or with cerebral palsy — whatever it is that makes them feel different than the person that can just bounce up with their heels — can be in the movies. It’s like, ‘I can dream this. It’s built in that I can dream this. There is a way for me to get up there.’”
Blair also spoke about other elements of living with MS. The actress, who has been sober since 2016, said that alcohol was once used to cope with symptoms of MS, which she said she suffered from long before she received her formal diagnosis.
"[Alcohol] was always self-medication," she said. "It helped. It took away pain like no other, until the next day."
During her 2022 stint on Dancing With the Stars, which she had to end prematurely due to health concerns, she overhauled her diet so that she would be able to get herself through the grueling workouts.
“It changed my relationship to food and exercise,” Blair explained of competing on the show while battling MS symptoms. “I had energy and I slept well.”
Blair first shared the news that she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in an October 2018 Instagram post, in which she declared, “I have #multiplesclerosis. I am in an exacerbation. By the grace of the lord, and will power and the understanding producers at Netflix, I have a job. A wonderful job. I am disabled. I fall sometimes. I drop things. My memory is foggy. And my left side is asking for directions from a broken gps. But we are doing it . And I laugh and I don’t know exactly what I will do precisely but I will do my best.”
The Legally Blonde actress later gave fans an inside look into her health journey in the 2021 documentary I Am Selma Blair, in which she underwent a two-month hematopoietic stem cell transplant to help restart her immune system. The treatment, she later said, put her MS in remission.
She told People in 2021 of living with MS, "It was a really hard time in my life. People don't say how excruciating, emotionally, it can be to kind of prove you're not well. But I want to tell the truth about MS. It is important to me that people see what living with a chronic illness is like."
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