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‘Sunrise’ Actor Calls for Greater Disability Inclusion in Hollywood

Jan 18, 2024 |

You may recognize Kurt Yaeger from his days as a BMX rider in the X Games, but more recently he has made a name for himself as an actor in several popular tv series and films. He has also been a part of the limb loss community since 2006 after losing his leg below the knee in a motorcycle accident. Gus Alexiou wrote the story for Forbes on 1/16/24.  

Appearing in shows including the NCIS series, Another Life, Sons of Anarchy, and L.A.’s Finest, Kurt’s latest film Sunrise is set to release on Friday, January 19. Where in the past on set he has often felt defined by his disability, Kurt has had a different experience with his latest project. “In other projects I’ve been involved in, people have tried to insist on making my disability the totality of my character,” he explained in an interview. In this environment Kurt felt that he was being asked to play the character based off the perceived reality of what they thought being disabled was. “Sometimes, it felt like the whole reason I was there was because of my prosthetic leg and it was the leg that was the star, not me,” he continued. 

In contrast with Sunrise, he felt he was cast based on his acting talent rather than his amputation. “The character is not written as disabled even though they knew I have a prosthetic leg. It never once came up as a negative,” Kurt shared. “The other actors were telling me that I’ve changed their perspective. The perception is often about thinking disability is this one thing and then being astounded when it turns out to be very different from what you thought.”  

Moving forward, Kurt hopes his experience can become the standard for other disabled talent in the film and TV industry and he continues to advocate for enhanced disability inclusion to make this a reality. 

Watch Kurt Yaeger as Gillespie in Sunrise in theaters, on digital, and on demand this Friday.