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.
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
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
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