ACPA Family Services

An Interview with Stacy Keach

An Interview with Stacy Keach

The Cleft Palate Foundation appreciates Stacy Keach providing this special interview in honor of National Cleft & Craniofacial Awareness Month. Thank you, Stacy!

SK5CPF: If you had just met someone hearing your name for the first time, how would you introduce yourself? 

Stacy: I would say that I’m an actor, a composer, and a voice-over artist. I would reference American Greed as a show I have been narrating for the past 11 years.

CPF: What form of facial difference were you born with?  How many related surgeries have you had? What were the most challenging and rewarding stages of cleft care for you?

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Stacy: I was born with a cleft lip and a partial cleft palate. I had four surgeries as a child: shortly after birth, at six months, then at a year and a half, and finally, at four years of age. The most challenging aspect of my young life was dealing with kids who teased me. This actually strengthened my resolve to succeed in sports, in academics, and as a young performer.  I took speech therapy to help reduce the nasal sound of my speech.

CPF: What has inspired you to push through challenges in your cleft care journey?  How has a team of cleft care specialists and support from family and friends helped along the way?

Stacy: There is no better support than parents. Friends are important as well, and doctors. My dear parents instilled the notion in me that I was special. Yes, I was different than other kids, but in many ways, that became a badge of honor.

Stacy with his dad and brother.

Stacy with his dad and brother.

CPF: Tell us a little about your career path so far. What accomplishments are you most proud of?  What do you look forward to in the future?

SK3_cropStacy: I have been very fortunate in my career. I have always loved the theatre, especially Shakespeare, and I am proud to say that I have had the honor and privilege to play many of his major roles. I had a great success playing King Lear, and I am looking forward to reviving that in the not-too-distant future.

CPF: Who has been the biggest influence on your life?  What lessons did that person teach you?

Stacy: My parents were my greatest influence. I also had a professor in college, William Oliver, at the University of California, Berkeley.  He, along with my parents, gave me the confidence to pursue my dream of becoming the best possible actor in whatever medium I chose to pursue: film, TV, voiceovers.

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CPF: How has having a cleft impacted the way you view the world?

Stacy: I am very sympathetic to families impacted by craniofacial issues, especially with regard to dealing with kids who tease, with speech impediments, with impaired looks. The message is constant and clear: Use whatever talent you discover you have to offset any negativity coming your way.  Let your ‘special circumstances’ become a motor to achieve greatness in whatever field you choose to pursue.

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CPF: You’ve spent time in the public spotlight. Are you always comfortable with your appearance?  How do you handle the times when you notice your facial difference?

Stacy: As an actor, I am forever dealing with whether or not I want my scar to show, or do I want to hide it under a mustache? Over the years, I have generally wanted to have the scar showing if I’m playing tough guys or vulnerable roles, where it becomes important not to ‘hide’.  I’m just getting ready to play an Italian mobster, and I’m definitely going to play him without a mustache… but then, I am so giving him pale blue eyes (special contacts) and a gold tooth (special denture).

CPF: What else would you like the cleft-craniofacial community to know?

Stacy: I would like the craniofacial community to know that there is always a way for those of us born with defects to show another side of our personality that diminishes the importance or the stigma of being ‘different.’

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6 Responses

  1. Carmen Hernández Villar
    When I was 12 years old, I really liked the TV series "Mistral's daughter". I thought the actor was really handsome (and he is, no doubt). 30 years later, I read that the actor who roled that series, he was born with cleft palate. I have a son, whose name is Victor, 4 years old, who was born with cleft palate. He had not uvula, and being 18 months he had his surgery. I am associated to Aficaval, which is a regional Association in la Comunidad Valenciana, in Spain. Because I wanted to help my son and other children to have a normal growth, a normal life. I appreciate this interview very much. Mr. Keach, he is an example to follow. Carmen Hernández
    Reply
  2. Satish Kalra
    Wow! As a regular watcher of American Greed I am an admirer of your resonant voice, perfect diction and the ability to tell a (bad) story. I recently retired after over 16 years with the world's largest cleft charity where my job gave me the opportunity to meet tens of thousands of cleft kids and their moms across four continents. (The charity has sponsored over one million surgeries in 80+ countries). But let me share another story not dissimilar to yours. Sannidhandan (www.google.co.in/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=sannidhanandan) was born with a cleft palate and is today a leading voiceover provider to Indian movies in Malayalam. And earns a good livelihood doing that! As you probably know all Indian movies are full of songs and dances with an outsider providing the voice as the hero lip syncs while prancing around!
    Reply
  3. James J. Bobreski
    Grateful to Stacy Keach to tell his story. Few people male and certainly no female ever makes it to the movie screen. I am glad that being born with a cleft as if I had a choice, I wasn't born female. A woman painfully and unfairly is judge exclusively by her looks. The world will change when we see an actress with a cleft in some kind of starring role.
    Reply
  4. Linda Harris
    What a handsome and talented guy. Clefts can make you a stronger person if you let them. I have a cleft palate and I'm almost 60 years old. Throughout my life I've learned to think outside the box and I have a strong faith in God which tells me that God does not make mistakes. My life's theme is, if there is something you want to do, then do it! Don't let others hold you back. Thank you for sharing his interview with us!!! Very inspiring.
    Reply
  5. Nancy
    Hi Stacy, I am writing to say "thank you" for your willingness, over many years, to show the world your scar and talk about your cleft lip and partial palate. So many people do not realize how prevalent this condition is, especially in the United States. I include myself in this group, until recently. My grandson was born on New Year's Eve 2016 with a cleft lip and gum. He had his first surgery in March 2017, his lip looks great and his nose looks much better - he will need some more surgery on his gum and left nostril, which collapsed a bit after rejecting the micro-stitches. He has a beautiful smile and expression, and I appreciate this all the more because of his early tribulations. I am concerned about other children's teasing when he starts elementary school; however, with more exposure and education regarding clefts perhaps we can alleviate the stigma attached to it. It has been done with many disabilities - and this is not a disability! Regards, Nancy
    Reply
  6. Meg Pryor
    I have a cleft palate and wear a prosthetic that replaces my soft palate. I am 65 years old. My speech is not at all compromised. I had no soft palate and my hard palate was bilaterally cleft up to my teeth, but not including them. I have fooled speech pathologists with my speech and even perform as a singer. Without my prosthetic my speech is similar to that of a person who is profoundly deaf. So, I am very happy with my prosthetic. I have known about Mr. Keach for a long time. There are a whole lot of us out here.
    Reply

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