“No One Believes We’re Identical Twins”. The Disease Affected Adam Pearson Differently Than His Brother, but He Became an actor
Adam Pearson and his brother Neil’s lives took a turn in early childhood when they were diagnosed with neurofibromatosis. This rare condition occurs in one person out of every 2300. The disease affected the brothers differently, but neither of them gave up. Despite a tumor affecting his face, Adam has built a successful career in Hollywood.
Living with neurofibromatosis
Adam Pearson was born on January 6, 1985, along with his identical twin brother, Neil. The diagnosis was given to the brothers before they turned five, after Adam fell and hit his forehead, but the lump never disappeared. Eventually, he was referred to Great Ormond Street Hospital, where scans revealed a tumor on his neck, blocking his airway. This marked the beginning of many surgeries to remove the growths, including stays in intensive care.
Neil did not show symptoms immediately, and his family believed he might have escaped the condition that distorted his brother’s face. Neil also suffers from the same genetic condition, but tumors did not develop on his face. Instead, he battles epilepsy and experiences such severe memory loss that he cannot recall what day it is today.
Navigating through secondary school in Croydon proved to be a challenge for Pearson. Subjected to insults and regular teasing, he found himself in a distressed situation when a supposed friend lured him to a classroom, only to be ambushed by a group of peers lying in wait. The incident left Pearson scarred, both emotionally and physically. These early trials laid the foundation for the resilient and self-assured individual he would become, using humor and strength to rise above adversity.
Pearson’s life took a positive turn when he pursued higher education at Brighton University, where he studied business management. Graduating from university marked the beginning of a successful career for Pearson, who ventured into television production roles at both the BBC and Channel 4. Notably, he has continued to make a meaningful impact in the entertainment industry, playing a crucial role in casting for groundbreaking series such as The Undateables and Beauty and the Beast.
Under the Skin: A turning point
Starring in Under the Skin marked a significant turning point for Pearson. The film, directed by Jonathan Glazer, explores themes of ignorance and prejudice through the eyes of an alien, played by Johansson, who becomes conflicted upon encountering Pearson’s character. The scenes, often improvised, depict a raw and honest portrayal of human interaction that challenges preconceived notions.
Pearson seized the opportunity to challenge the film industry’s tendency to use facial imperfections as shorthand for evil. He also emphasizes the need for actors with conditions to play characters with the same conditions, rather than relying on prosthetics. Pearson believes that breaking away from these stereotypes in cinema can contribute to reducing the stigma associated with disfigurement in wider society. “The more people see it in wider society, the less stigma there is,” he mentioned in an interview.
A supportive network and social critics
During his regular visits to Great Ormond Street Hospital, Pearson discovered Changing Faces, an organization offering support to individuals and families dealing with conditions affecting their appearance. The charity provided him with coping mechanisms and encouraged a positive mindset, reinforcing the idea that people who teased his appearance were the ones with the problem, not him.
Pearson is also critical of the rising trend in elective cosmetic surgery, arguing that media literacy should be part of education. He believes that people often compare themselves to airbrushed images without understanding the effort that goes into producing such visuals. Pearson advocates for a shift in societal perspectives on beauty and a more inclusive portrayal of diverse appearances in the media.
While Pearson surfs in the success of Under the Skin, he is eager to pursue more acting opportunities. Living with his retired parents, Marilyn and Patrick, he takes pride in his achievements, acknowledging the positive impact his journey has had on challenging stereotypes surrounding disfigurement.
Despite acknowledging the 50% chance of passing on his condition to potential children, he approaches the idea of starting a family with optimism and humor. Expressing a desire to find a girlfriend while embracing his single status, Pearson shows a confident perspective on parenthood. With a self-assured grin, he playfully remarks that his kids will be genetically awesome.
Take a look at this woman as well. Due to her illness, she also faced mockery but went through it with her head held high and became a model.