Kiruna Stamell – an amazing advocate for artists experiencing disability

30th June, 2018
Kiruna Stamell

Great to see Kiruna Stamell, an award-nominated Australian actress, on Q&A advocating for the truthful representation of people experiencing disability.

Here is an excerpt of what she had to say about being a woman growing up in the ’80s, and the representations of people with dwarfism:

“So I was devastated often when I saw a little person on television, because what I saw was somebody that was being ridiculed, they were other, they were often not human. They were often doing something really debasing and embarrassing. And I remember just being an ordinary little girl watching that, going, “Oh, is anybody ever going to love me?” Like, “Is it weird? Am I weird? Should I be jumping out of photocopiers and scaring people? Is that what people like me do?” Like, “Is that the truth?”

“And what I’ve realised is, it’s not even just about positive examples, it’s actually about truthful examples. You know, it’s about the honest thing. Like, as an actor, it drives me absolutely bananas. I am more likely to be somebody’s wife, teacher, lawyer, secretary, woman behind the counter than I ever am to play one on screen or on stage. Like, that’s actually just being dishonest. Like, the world is not this body-fascist utopia where everyone is a super hottie. And the one example I remember thinking, which was Dirty Dancing, where Baby had a slightly wonky nose – as soon as she made that movie, she had a nose job! And that was devastating for me. So, you know… I mean, my examples weren’t even of disabled women. They were of not even seeing a woman that was even just slightly less attractive, you know? So I think that those things are so important.

“And I know a lot of the discrimination I meet on the street directly correlates with what’s happening in the press and in terms of media. Like, so, you know, Austin Powers comes out, and for the next five years my sisters and me hear “Mini-Me” when we’re walking down the street. So I see a very strong link and a very strong correlation. I am not for censorship, but I’m very much for actually truthful representation and showing people actually being people, living lives that we’re actually living, you know? I just want to play characters which are truthful for somebody like me, NOT what society thinks somebody like me should be doing, which is living under a toadstool and working for Santa.

“Like, that’s not real!”

The full Q&A episode can be viewed at