Hi my name is Lei and I am a film maker. I acquired a spinal cord injury four years ago when I fell down a staircase. It was a C5 injury that left me paralyzed and in a wheelchair for almost a year. I am now a walking quad and use a cane to get around. In the midst of my recovery, I found Connect TV. I was brought on board to produce documentaries for TV and film. I had been an advertising art director and a painter before my injury. So, filmmaking just became another medium for me to express myself and communicate what I feel is good for everybody.
I have found that through the camera, through sound, I am able to reach so many more people. It’s a multilayered medium and it’s very empowering to get the story I want out there. There are stories that involve people who have recently acquired a spinal cord injury. And there are stories about people who were born with a disability—in contrast with the people who acquired their injury. I am interested in exploring how similar and how different these two types are in solving their problems, in solving what they have to overcome.
The shows and short films we produce at Connect TV are for people with disabilities of all sorts. In essence, Connect TV is about educating the disabled as well as the nondisabled communities. Connect TV is also about trying to empower people with talent to work behind the camera and to create media power, wealth, whatever you want to call it. It is ultimately therapeutic.
Filming is also my therapy because I learn so much from the subject. There are so many times when my subjects talk about certain things that happened in their lives and I stop and think, “Oh my God, I can’t believe I’m not the only person. This is such a common issue and I am so glad I could identify. I feel normal.” Being able to feel normal, to relate, is very important. So, I think it’s a give and take when doing documentaries.
I myself never imagined I would be paralyzed. I never imagined in a second that I could become disabled. Yet, it doesn’t change me; it has changed my view of life though. There was ignorance out there that needed, and still needs, to be awakened. There needs to be more communication or better communication between the nondisabled and the disabled. I would like to close that gap. And I think I can help achieve that through film and Connect TV.
Paralysis Resource Center The Reeve Foundation Paralysis Resource Center Information Specialists are reachable business weekdays, Monday through Friday, toll-free at 800-539-7309 from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm ET. You may also schedule a call or send a message online.
The Reeve Foundation Paralysis Resource Center Information Specialists are reachable business weekdays, Monday through Friday, toll-free at 800-539-7309 from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm Eastern U.S. Time. International callers use 973-467-8270. You may also schedule a call or send a message online.
This project was supported, in part by grant number 90PR3001, from the U.S. Administration for Community Living, Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, D.C. 20201. Grantees undertaking projects under government sponsorship are encouraged to express freely their findings and conclusions. Points of view or opinions do not, therefore, necessarily represent official Administration for Community Living policy.