Comedian Maysoon Zayid Makes Disability Mainstream

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The first thing Maysoon Zayid said when she took to the stage at the 2018 Pennsylvania Conference for Women was: “I’m not drunk.” But, she quickly added, “the doctor who delivered me was.”

She went onto explain that she has cerebral palsy, which causes her to involuntarily shake all the time. But Zayid doesn’t want anyone to feel sorry for her. “I’ve got 99 problems, and palsy is just one,” she quips. Among her other problems, she explains: She is from New Jersey.

Zayid, who is developing a comedy series inspired by her life for ABC, is making disability mainstream. Currently, she told the audience of 12,000: People with disabilities are 20 percent of the population but only 2 percent of the images we see from Hollywood.

Speaking of the challenges of learning how to walk as a child, Zayid spoke about how her father helped her.

“My father had a mantra: ‘You can do it, yes you can can,’” she said. He had two methods to inspire her, she explained. “He placed my feet on his feet and walked; I walked miles on that man’s shoes. The second was to dangle a dollar bill and have me chase it. My inner stripper was so strong.”