news

Broadway’s Ali Stroker Recreates Controversial Photoshoot, Talks Sex And Disability

by Roxy Garrity
Roxy is a reporter and writer for LittleThings. Born in North Carolina, she graduated with a journalism degree from the University of Florida, and now lives in Manhattan. She's drawn to uplifting stories that inspire her audience, and she has interviewed a range of compelling public figures, such as President Obama and Taylor Swift. She loves live music, yoga, art, traveling, all animals, and meeting new people. Send her your story ideas or just say hi!

After a car accident left Ali Stroker paralyzed from the chest down at the age of two, she says she spent her early childhood years letting her disability define her.

It wasn’t until she performed in a musical when she was seven years old that she realized she was “ready to be more than just a girl in a wheelchair.”

“I fell in love with musical theater and with performing, and it really gave me this other identity,” said Stroker. “Up until I was seven, this was — my disability and my wheelchair was my identity, and I was really ready to move beyond that.”

And move beyond that she did. Stroker started acting professionally at the age of 11, and became the first actress in a wheelchair to earn a degree from the NYU Tisch Drama Department before setting her sights on Broadway.

In September 2015, Stroker made history as the first actress in a wheelchair on Broadway in her debut role playing Anna in a revival of the 2006 Tony award-winning musical Spring Awakening. The show, which addressed many risky subjects like teenage sex, abortion, homosexuality, and bondage also featured other disabled actors like Oscar winner Marlee Matlin, who is deaf.

“I think that things are changing, hopefully there will be more people with disabilities representing themselves and they are seen in a sexual way,” said Stroker. “Because we are human beings and I think people with disabilities have such incredible abilities.”

Though the show finished its run this month, Stroker hopes to continue the conversation about disabled people and sex.

Stroker told LittleThings.com: “Growing up I never really felt like it was talked about. It was like people with disabilities were seen as not sexual beings and I was a teenager and was like, ‘but wait I want to kiss boys’ so I’m really excited about sort of bringing this conversation to the media.”

Stroker also posed in a sexy photo shoot for You Do You re-creating a few iconic shots with people who were seen as disabled that aren’t actually disabled.

When Kylie Jenner posed in a wheelchair for the December/January cover of Interview magazine, it caused a lot of controversy. Instead of being mad about it, Stroker felt like it gave her the opportunity to speak out and represent the disabled community in an authentic, yet sexual way.

When she was younger, Stroker felt like she didn’t know how to express her sexuality because people in wheelchairs were rarely seen as sexy. Now she hopes to be that role model for the younger generation.

Check out LittleThings’ interview with Stroker below and please SHARE her inspiring story!

Due to restrictions, this video cannot
be viewed in your region.