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Shaker Native Anita Hollander Fights For Performers With Disabilities

Shaker Heights native Anita Hollander has spent her career acting, singing and advocating for people with disabilities. She personally lost her leg to cancer at age 26. Hollander returns home to perform a one-woman show featuring selections from her latest solo musical, “Spectacular Falls,” at Fairmount Temple in Beachwood Saturday.   

“It’s a show about the many ways we use the word fall,” Hollander said. “It starts with the event of my falling and breaking my hand four years ago after already having lost a leg long, long ago.”

Hollander weaves together that fall and others in life and also explores how “the future falls to us to make a better world.”

Anita Hollander

Hollander is trying to do her part serving on the national SAG-AFTRA committee for performers with disabilities. She has seen real progress in the treatment of actors with disabilities in the last couple years, particularly on Broadway. Hollywood has further to go, she said. 

“Disability was left out when they started to think, ‘oh, diversity,’ in movies,” Hollander said.

She also stressed casting actors with disabilities in roles where the character has a disability rather than an actor who does not. She encourages people to let Hollywood know when they fall short.

“If you looked at that and thought, ‘hey, wouldn’t it be better if a blind actor was actually playing a blind role'… then you can write about it,” she said. “Every single television and movie company has a website or Facebook page or Instagram or Twitter.”

Early in her career, a former teacher at Carnegie Mellon University cautioned her about going to New York City and warned how she would be judged by her disability. It didn’t deter Hollander from pursuing a career in the arts, but she did face challenges and rude people. She finds it helpful to sing about the experiences on stage.    

“You can get back that them by getting a huge laugh or groan from telling people what those people said to you,” she said.  

Anita Hollander performs at Fairmont Temple in BeachwoodSaturday at 7 p.m.


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