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‘I felt seen and understood’ actor with cerebral palsy Niamh Moriarty stars in BBC Drama
When 16-year-old Niamh Moriarty first read the script for Best Interests, she felt “seen and understood”.
Moriarty, from Killiney, Co Dublin, stars alongside Sharon Horgan and Michael Sheen in the BBC One drama series which starts on Monday, June 12th. She has cerebral palsy and plays a disabled character. “I have never seen anyone attempt to recognise those struggles before,” she says of Bafta-winning writer Jack Thorne’s screenplay.
[Actor Niamh Moriarty sitting in her wheelchair. She is wearing black shoes, and blue jeans, with a white shirt and pink tank top]
Authenticity was key to the casting of Marnie from the beginning, says Moriarty, who recently finished transition year. Moriarty was born three months early and says her brain didn’t send the correct messages to her muscles from the waist down, affecting muscle tone and function. At the age of six, she underwent life-changing surgery that removed tightness in her muscles, granting her more freedom than ever before. Growing up, she never saw children like herself on screen. At the age of 11, she set her sights on drawing from her own experiences and becoming an actor herself.
“I find that when I watch a disabled actor playing a disabled person, there’s a certain understanding and realism in their performance that just can’t be captured by someone who hasn’t gone through that experience themselves,” she says. “On-screen roles for disabled actors are so few and far between that, quite frankly, I think we should be given the chance to take them when they come – because they’re not always there.”
Specialist Information Officer and Cerebral Palsy Programme Lead
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