Plenty of actors have portrayed characters that experience seizures on television drama series or in films. For actress Tucky Williams, the creator, writer and lead of the hit lesbian-themed drama web series Girl/Girl Scene, epilepsy is no acting matter. Epilepsy is an all-too real part of Tucky's life, but she's decided to do something to help others.
According to the Epilepsy Foundation, one in 10 Americans will have a seizure in their lifetime. In the US, 3 million people are currently diagnosed with epilepsy, a neurological condition that can affect anyone, anywhere, at any time.
Despite epilepsy being so prevalent, a fear of epilepsy continues to hinder people’s understanding of the disease. Ignorance about the condition has caused discrimination in the workplace, at school and everyday life. Luckily, that is beginning to change. As more celebrities are bringing attention to the cause, epilepsy is becoming a hot topic in the news.
Tucky is taking on a new role by speaking out on behalf of Americans living with epilepsy to educate, explain the need to find a cure, and fight against the stigma associated with the condition. She aims to help break the social stigmatization and end the discrimination that keeps people with the illness “in the closet.”
Tucky was diagnosed with epilepsy in 2009 after collapsing into a tonic-clonic seizure while teaching yoga to a class of 25 people. One of the students was a pulmonologist who, assisted by a nurse, performed CPR until Tucky could breath on her own.
Now Tucky relies on a combination of medications, a special diet and a regular exercise routine to prevent any more seizures. She has also made it her goal to raise awareness about epilepsy through advocacy.
Tucky, an out actress, says she sees similarities between dealing with epilepsy and what it means to be gay. “Most people with epilepsy are 'in the closet' about it because they are worried that if others know they will be treated differently and perhaps even rejected,” Tucky said in a statement. “While I'm openly out about my sexual-orientation, basically with epilepsy, I get to be gay all over again."
Tucky hopes her voice will have a positive impact on her community and help to reach LGBT audiences effectively.
Celebrities who have rallied for epilepsy awareness include Prince, Daniel Craig, Dame Judi Dench, Leonardo Di Caprio, Sarah Jessica Parker, Jennifer Garner, Courteney Cox, Claudia Schiffer, Emma Thompson, Hugh Laurie, Sylvester Stallone, Donalad Trump, Neil Young and Larry King.
For Tucky, epilepsy awareness is a way of life that she has fully embraced. Her goal is to enlighten people who think otherwise, and eradicate the stigma of madness attached to the condition considered demonic.
Season 2 of Girl/Girl Scene kicks off July 15, 2012, but that’s not all you can see of Tucky this summer. She is focusing on the launch of her epilepsy advocacy campaign and can be seen on the small screen as a guest star on Showtime’s The Real L Word Season 3.
By opening the dialogue to raise awareness about what epilepsy really is and telling stories of life with the condition, Tucky hopes to put a human face on this common disorder. It's about one story at a time grassroots advocacy to demystify the realities of life with epilepsy.