Ask anyone who’s dipped their toes into this ocean: making it in show business is brutal if you have absolutely everything going for you, including amazing looks, tremendous talent, and unending drive.
But imagine if you want to be a star and you have a disability, one that everyone can immediately see.
You not only have to overcome their potential revulsion, but you have to muster twice the confidence normally required to ace auditions, a confidence that even seasoned performers sometimes find lacking.
And that’s what makes Australia’s Emmanuel Kelly so very amazing.
With a charm and charisma that translates even through the TV screen, Kelly is missing limbs and has a pronounced limp at only the age of 17.
But what’s undeniably not missing is his powerful and moving singing voice, and with the love and encouragement of his mother and blood brother, the young Aussie decided to audition for TV talent competition The X Factor down under five years ago in 2011.
According to his own website, the now-22-year-old star was viewed with over 12 million You Tube hits for his X Factor audition, which ballooned to 50 million by six months later and is up to 100 million today.
He is now living his dream as a genuine recording artist, a dream shared by millions of others, but one which he overcame incredible odds to bring to fruition.
Singing, appropriately, John Lennon’s “Imagine” for his audition song, Kelly moved the judges to tears with the story of how he was born with a physical deformity. Left in a shoebox with his brother and discovered by nuns, who brought him to an orphanage, Kelly’s birth mother was exposed to chemical warfare while pregnant in her native Iraq. That exposure led to the boys being born missing limbs.
Later adopted by his Australian mother, Emmanuel has had more than six surgeries to try to correct some of his physical issues. And despite all the global adulation, he remains extremely humble.
“You have to dream to achieve the greatest goals in life,” he says on his website. “At the end of the day, we are all born with gifts and talents, mine is to inspire you to achieve through my words.”
And that you have most certainly done, Emmanuel Kelly, that you have most certainly done.
By the way, greatness seems to run in this family: Emmanuel’s brother Ahmed, who is himself a quadruple amputee, swam for Australia in 2012 in the Summer Paralympics.
Clearly, these boys have been blessed with a special drive and a talent to show everyone else that, as German philosopher Goethe said, “Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.”