#SHAREYOURSTORY Feature: Dawn Grabowski
Photography by Denise Vasquez www.DeniseVasquezPhotography.com
I’ve always been the kind of person who gets inspired by others success, and I love being able to shine the light on talent. Throughout my life, I have produced, booked talent, hosted and performed in live stage shows from my “Ladies Night Music Festivals” on St. John, US Virgin Islands, to WO+MEN 4 A CAUSE & WO+MEN 4 APPLAUSE comedy & music variety shows in Hollywood, CA and beyond.
Talent always comes first to me, especially when booking my shows. When I met Dawn Grabowski in a comedy class many years ago, I saw her talent & booked her right away! For this edition of #SHAREYOURSTORY please allow me to introduce to you to my friend, Dawn Grabowski:
Photography by Penny L. Moore www.plmphotography.net
Tell me about yourself:
I am a Creative Artist ( Actress, Writer, Content Creator, Speaker, Filmmaker, Producer, and Sit -Down Comic because I'm not qualified to stand) that uses all forms of my creativity to influence the world, and people, and my audience(s) in a positive way. I have also been a Disability Advocate both Personally, and Professionally.
Tell me whatever you’d like to share about your disability:
Well, I tell people that my real disability is being flat chested in Hollywood and over the age of 30. Trust me, it's a disability. That being said my official diagnosis is Spastic Cerebral Palsy. I was born 2 months early. I was diagnosed approximately the age of two years old. I was taken to the doctor because I wasn't sitting up. My disability affects my whole body. I use crutches and/or a wheelchair daily.
What is your favorite thing to do that makes you happy?
One of my favorite things that makes me happy is Acting & Performing. I love the opportunity to Entertain! I feel it is a great privilege to be an Actress, and Creative Artist. I have the ability to affect people, and the world in a positive way! As I've gotten older, however, I realize that I am responsible for my own happiness. I heard someone say recently that you can't just wait for your life to get better before you decide to be happy. It is a choice.
How did you get into acting, writing, stand up comedy, directing & making movies?
Well, I have wanted to be an actress since I was 6 years old. My parents took me to see my first Broadway play Annie at that age. From that moment on I knew Acting is what I wanted to do with my life. I started studying Drama and Acting in the 8th grade. I continued in high school and eventually earned a Bachelor of Arts in theater in college. After college when I moved to California to pursue my Acting dreams, I started looking into other creative endeavors. All my other creative endeavors have been in evolution. For example, I started writing when I took a UCLA extension class on had to create your own one person autobiographical play. As someone who was always wanted to be proactive with a career, I've always been looking for ways to get my foot in the door, my crutch in the door, or my wheel in the door. I started creating my own projects about 3 years after I arrived in Los Angeles. I realized early on that as a Performer With a Disability (PWD). There were not going to be as many opportunities as I would like so I started to create my own. Another example is, I found a Weekend Comedy Class through a Groupon (of all things) when I was going through a difficult time in my life. I had no idea that a Comedy Weekend Workshop would turn into 7 plus years Studying & Performing Comedy.
All of your work is amazing, and I loved having you on my WO+MEN 4 APPLAUSE show! Can you share what inspired you to incorporate your disability into your stand up comedy?
Thank you so much for liking my work I have done, Denise. I really appreciate the compliments more than I can say. Honestly, I do not think I can take credit for incorporating my physicality (my label by Society of a person with Cerebral Palsy) into my comedy. That was all my Comedy Instructors ideas: Jerry Corley, Mary Kennedy and Richy Leis, among others talked about accentuating my flaws, talked about having a strong Point Of View and perspective.
Photography by Penny L. Moore www.plmphotography.net
Is there any advice you can offer to other disabled people that might be interested in creating art at home but don’t know how to get started? Tips? Anything about your process you’d like to share?
My advice for any Artist whether they be Able-Bodied or not would be the same. If you want to do some sort of art, do it! If you want to write, start writing. If you want to act, start acting if you want to create content create content. What I'm saying is in this world of technology there are many resources be it the library, googling on the computer, YouTube videos, etc. To learn about the craft that you want to participate in. I know for many people with disabilities they are on a fixed income but with the Wonder of the internet & there are many zoom and internet opportunities that are free. If you don't have money to go to a class get your friends together form a Writing Group, an Acting group, a Content Creation Group, etc. bounce ideas off of each other and keep each other accountable to actually get stuff done. Personally, I hate labels, and feel we should not label people and only jars. That being said, if you are in an underrepresented group you could research opportunities for that group. We are living in a Time where diversity has suddenly become more important than it has in the past. Make sure you Study, Prepare, and Train. So, you will be ready when that opportunity comes.
Do you face accessibility issues constantly? When going outdoors? Comedy Clubs? etc…If so what are the challenges you face when dealing with accessibility? Are there any accessibility issues you would like to see improved?
Yes, I face accessibility issues every day I decide to leave my apartment, and participate in the world. The biggest challenge sometimes is just physically getting into a building, or on the stage. But sometimes a bigger challenge is the closed-minded attitudes that I encounter by people that are not as open-minded, or as evolved in 2021. Ideally, I would like to see every stage and every theater accessible for everyone( including those with physical disabilities). Also, as a Comic, I strive to make you laugh, entertain you, and enlighten you. I found that it's sometimes difficult to get stage time as a Comic because I am a Comic that talks about more than just one night stands, and dating Adventures. I am primarily a Clean Comic that doesn't really focus on sexual material. So, my branding has been different than most of the Comics working. As a result, I have found it difficult to get stage time either in person, or over virtual shows.
Is there anything you’d like to bring awareness to or educate people on what they should or not do when it comes to how they approach disabled people?
In terms of accessibility and education when approaching a person with a disability, my (humble) advice would be to ask the person if they need any accommodations. Even though the Americans with Disabilities Act (The ADA) has been in existence now for 31 years, some people with disabilities are still shy to ask for Reasonable Accommodations for fear they might lose the job, or opportunity that they are trying to obtain. They don’t want to be labeled difficult, or a Problem Child. My experience has been not only is it sometimes literally difficult to get in the building. It is sometimes figuratively difficult to get in the building, as well.
Anything else you’d like to add?
My advice to anyone wanting to work in the Arts is to realize that if you really want to have a career of longevity, you must think of it as a marathon and not a sprint. I would encourage everyone to be their authentic selves - Not who they think someone else wants them to be. You as a human being, and as a Creative Arts define who you are, and what you want to create. I would also encourage anyone to find a work-life balance. As someone who has solely focused on their career for primarily their whole life. It reaches a point where you realize it might be good to have friends, hobbies, interest and goals outside of the Creative Art(s) that you love.
Where can people learn more about you & your art?
Dawn Grabowski (@DawnGrabowski) / Twitter
Dawn Grabowski (@grabowskidawn) • Instagram photos and videos
(20+) Dawn Grabowski | Facebook
(7) QUEST The Series - YouTube (www.questtheseries.com)
(7) WHAT'S YOUR CHANNEL 4 LIFE EPISODE 1 - YouTube (www.whatsyourchannel4life.com)
(7) Life In Limbo - YouTube (lifeinlimbonow.com)
Coming Soon(end of June 2021) my New Web Series: The Adventures of The Amazing Lady
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