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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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On the Other End of the Line

You’ll meet many new folks here at Cleft Connection including a few regulars that you’ll see again and again. Take a few moments to meet those on the other end of the line:

Emily Kiser_colorEmily Kiser has been the Foundation Administrator at CPF since March 2011. If you’ve ordered a CPF teddy bear, applied for a CPF college scholarship, or ordered CPF booklets, Emily may have helped you. A Spanish-speaker, she is the first-contact person for our Spanish-speaking patients and families.

SW1Stephanie Williamson joined CPF staff as Director of Family Services in the summer of 2013. From direct service to research to education, Stephanie’s professional experience has woven through many facets of individual and family support. Whether you’ve got a question about a treatment team, feeding support, care as an adult, or any other craniofacial care issue, Stephanie’s mission is to connect you with the information and resources you need.

Lisa mugLisa Gist Walker has been part of the CPF community since 2006 and is former Director of Family Services. Since 2010 she’s managed special projects and events for CPF including publications and staff development. Lisa’s work with children and families stretches across more than 25 years and includes community mental health services and other non-profit settings.

         That’s us, the regulars you’ll see here at Cleft Connection.                 We can’t wait to meet you, too!

Welcome to CPF’s new blog, Cleft Connection!

Hello, and welcome to the Cleft Palate Foundation (CPF) and its new blog, Cleft Connection! Whether you’re meeting us for the first time or have known us for years, we at CPF have one guiding goal for our relationship with you: To help support and inform you as you make your way through the world of craniofacial care. Since 1973, we’ve supported patients and families through Cleftline, family conferences, and an ever-growing collection of educational materials. We are most excited about this new experience: engaging in conversation with you via Cleft Connection. Continue reading →