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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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Connections Conference For the Win!

You’ve probably seen months of hype for our 2014 Connections Conference… and it was all for a reason!  What a fantastic day we had in Indianapolis!   The event brought a great turnout and between our fantastic keynote speakers, informative breakout sessions, and adorable therapy dog visitors, everyone left the day with big smiles.

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Connections was held at the Indianapolis Downtown Marriott and kick-started with an inspirational and entertaining keynote address by David Roche.  We were happy to have David and his wife, Marlena Blavin, join us for their third Connections Conference this year.  They are lovely people with a special heart for those affected by cleft and craniofacial conditions.  David and Marlena facilitated a workshop on the power of personal storytelling, which was a moving experience for many of our participants.  David and Marlena’s keynote comments also provided the perfect bookends to the day’s event.

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Other workshops covered a variety of topics, including:

  • Speech/language therapy for early childhood and elementary years (Theresa Snelling, MA, CCC-SLP)
  • Navigating the world of insurance and craniofacial care (Marilyn Cohen, LSLP)
  • The genetics of cleft and craniofacial issues (Howard Saal, MD)
  • What to do when people stare (Charlene Pell)
  • How to improve outcomes for children with craniofacial differences (Claudia Bellucci, MS)

Special thanks to the highly-qualified volunteers who led these workshops!  They were instructive and beneficial to all those who attended.

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Another highlight of the day was the Team Q&A Panel, where key specialty areas of a typical treatment team were represented and families had the opportunity ask questions and discuss their individual needs and concerns.  This year’s panelists included Claudia Bellucci, MS; Angela Dixon, MA, CCC-SLP; Ron Hathaway, DDS, MS, MS; Trish Severns, MA; and Isaac Wornom, MD.  A sincere round of applause to this “team” of professionals for sharing their expertise with Connections families!

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We also enjoyed a panel of individuals and families from a variety of backgrounds who shared their own personal journeys with cleft and craniofacial care.  We could go on all day about all the wonderful contributions of our program participants!

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Besides all the connections, support, and education that took place throughout the day, there was a whole lot of fun going on too!  Our children’s activity room was a busy and happy place, with everything from crafts and origami to movies and books.  Highlights of their play day included a kids’ yoga session and a visit from about 15 dogs of all sizes, who were completely content with the shower of love and excitement that came from our group (kids and adults alike!).

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All in all, Connections was a huge success.  Please visit our 2014 Photo Gallery for a peek at the good times we had.   If you attended Connections 2014, please leave us a comment here so others hear about your personal highlights from the day!   For those we missed this go-around, we hope you’ll spread the word about Connections and join us in the future!

Drum Roll Please…

With big smiles and cheers, we’re thrilled to announce our

2014 Connections Conference 

for individuals and families affected by cleft lip/palate or other craniofacial conditions!!  Connections will be held March 22, 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana and you can learn all about it here.  We hope you’ll consider joining us!

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The Cleft Palate Foundation hosts a Connections Conference every two years in different cities around the country.  This year, we’re looking forward to adventures in the MidWest with many Families of Champions (our conference theme).

Connections offers a unique mix of education, friendship, and fun and is designed for the whole family.  Some highlights of the conference include keynote addresses by David Roche and Marlena Blavin, breakout workshops covering common topics of interest, a Q&A session with treatment team specialists, and a panel of families sharing insights from their own journeys in cleft/craniofacial care.  For the kiddos, we’ll have some four-footed, furry friends stopping by, kids’ yoga and movement fun, professional storytelling, and more!  Still on the fence about coming?  Let’s throw a pizza party, wine & cheese reception (cookies & milk offered too), and Connections t-shirts into the mix!  Okay, you’ve gotta see by now why we’re a little excited for this event…  It’s only $30 for the first adult, $20 for additional adults and teens, and $10 per child to attend and you can register online.

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If you still have questions after looking through our website, please feel free to give me a call (800-24-CLEFT) or leave me a comment on this post.  Please register soon so we can plan all of the best for you!  If Indy’s a little too far this go-around, please stay tuned for future conferences in your area.  (Wouldn’t hurt to drop us a note about how great your city is too… future locations are under review!)  We love interacting with you all on social media, email, and the Cleftline, but we’d be so happy to meet you in person too.  Hope to see you at Connections 2014!

 

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