Local Girl Making It In Hollywood 

Teal Sherer

The Liberty Mutual commercial features a young woman in a wheelchair, negotiating her way through a vexing day. The car won’t start and it’s pouring rain; she boards a bus with the help of a wheelchair lift and ducks under a low-hanging barrier—all to cast a solitary vote at a sparsely attended polling place.

A natural reaction to the “doing the right thing” series advertisement is to assume the pretty actor portraying the paraplegic subject is really just acting.

“People who are disabled can tell by the way she handles the wheelchair that she is also disabled,” says Suzanne Sherer, a finance officer in the Business & Information Services Directorate. Suzanne is the mother of Teal Sherer, who is featured in the commercial and is currently living in West Hollywood, Calif., to build an acting career.

Injuries suffered in traffic accident at age 14 left Teal paralyzed from the waist down. She nevertheless graduated from Lenior City High School and went on to Oglethorpe University in Atlanta, which is near the Shepherd Center, a rehabilitation facility that she credits, along with “the best mother ever,” with putting her “on the road to independence.”

“Teal took theater in college and loved it,” Suzanne says. Bitten by the acting bug, Teal appeared in plays in Atlanta. She won a role in a TV movie, “Warm Springs,” about Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s first visits to the Georgia spa after being stricken with polio.

“Friends tell me all the time that they forget I’m in a wheelchair.
They just forget.”

Teal also drew the task of tutoring acclaimed British actor Kenneth Branagh, who played FDR, on how to wear leg braces and swim as if he didn’t have the use of his legs.

“He claimed he needed to see how I swim, but I prefer to believe it was a ploy to see me in my bathing suit,” she wrote in an article for New Mobility magazine.

“Warm Springs” won five Emmys out of 16 nominations; she got a peck on the cheek from Branagh. Teal has also acted in a TV pilot and continues to be an activist for the rights of the disabled. As communications director of the SAG Performers with Disabilities Committee, she has worked to open up acting jobs for actors with disabilities.
She is producing “The History of Bowling,” a satire written by disabled playwright Mike Ervin.

While in Atlanta she visited the Shepherd Center as a peer supporter.

In Liberty Mutual’s commercial series, good deeds and good decisions spawn a better world. Teal’s “Election” spot implies that there aren’t many valid reasons for neglecting one’s civic responsibility. They picked a good one to drive home the point about determination. “Disabled” really isn’t a word that describes Teal.

“Friends tell me all the time that they forget I’m in a wheelchair. They just forget,” Teal says in New Mobility. “It’s all about attitude and personality. No matter what your situation, if you have a great attitude, other people pick up on it.”

We might be seeing a lot of Teal between now and the November elections. View the entire commercial at www.whatsyourpolicy.com/videos