Hollyoaks’ Kelly objects to ‘disabled’ label

Kelly-Marie Stewart has revealed she didn’t like being announced as Hollyoaks‘ first disabled star”.

The 24-year-old actress – who debuts as Zak’s sister Hayley in the Channel 4 soap on Wednesday – is in a wheelchair as a result of Guillain-Barre Syndrome but wants people to see beyond her disability.

Kelly said: “Obviously, it wasn’t that nice to be labelled because at the end of the day we cast for 18 months for it and I worked hard to get it, so for it to be just taken off like that was not really perceived in the right way.

“But hopefully when people watch the scenes, they’ll realise that that’s not how it is. That she is actually quite a good character and everything.

“If I could change just a couple of people’s perspectives, then it’s a positive outcome.”

She revealed she had discussed with producers about why her character was in a wheelchair.

Kelly said: “It’s been mentioned that she had a virus but that’s all that has been mentioned. But the only reason that’s been mentioned is she came in in the wheelchair so the viewers are going to want to know why she’s in the wheelchair – the main thing was addressing what’s gone on between her and Zak as opposed to what’s caused it.

“Obviously, it’s got to be addressed because she’s in the wheelchair and people want to know why but I think they’re trying to stay away from that side of it now, which is good.”

Guillain-Barre Syndrome an acute disease of the peripheral nervous system which affects the nerves in the arms and legs.

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