The First Word: Breaking the Mould

At just ten years old, Sarah Clark was diagnosed with Meningitis leaving her profoundly deaf and her dreams of becoming an actress seemly shattered. Now aged 21, she is determined not to let her disability prevent her from the career she has desired since childhood.


I am rushed to hospital where Meningitis is diagnosed.

It is 1996 – I am eight years old, and some Channel 4 casting agents come to my primary school looking for two girls and two boys to be in a short educational film. Blonde plaits bouncing excitedly I am chosen to audition, and end up landing the part. The filming takes only a few weeks, but it is enough to make me determined to be an actor – my poor parents had no idea what they were getting into. From then on I was obsessed with all things dramatic, and my parents, if not wildly enthusiastic, were supportive – after all, I enjoyed it, seemed to have at least some talent for it, and although it wasn't a great career choice, it may work out, right?

It is 1998 – I am two days away from my 10th birthday, but am really not feeling well. I am rushed to hospital, where Meningitis is diagnosed – an extremely serious disease, but I am one of the lucky ones, and miraculously pull through. Unfortunately not all of me makes it – and I am left now profoundly deaf. What seems even more miraculous to some people if that my desire to act is, if anything, made even stronger – although going deaf made me very shy in everyday life I was still fighting tooth and nail to be allowed on stage. My parents continue to be supportive, but are now very worried – they know that the acting industry can be a very superficial one, and they're pretty sure I'm going to end up getting badly hurt by some callous director telling me that disabled people cannot be actors. Oblivious to this, I continue to lobby to be allowed to do more and more acting, and when I am 13 they finally cave and allow me to apply to an agency.

Read the full published article in issue 2 of The Drama Student Magazine.

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