Geraldine Ann (Geri) Jewell was born in 1956 in Buffalo, New York. The actress, comic and author is best known for her role as Cousin Geri on the 1980â€™s sitcom, The Facts of Life. Jewell, born with cerebral palsy, was the first person with a disability to have a regular role on a prime time series.
Her 30+ year television and film career has never slowed with roles on The Great Space Coaster, the Emmy-award winning movie Two of a Kind with George Burns, Sesame Street, The Young and the Restless, Strong Medicine and the HBO hit series, Deadwood. She wrote and acted in an episode of 21 Jump Street called â€śUnfinished Businessâ€ť in 1990.
Recently she finished filming the role of Ms. Funker in Pie Head: A Kindaâ€™ True Story and is now knee-deep in two other projects - a TV series called Alcatraz and a film called My Next Breath for which she is a producer. She has also finished production of a documentary called CinemAbility due out in 2012.
She began her career doing stand-up comedy at the Comedy Store in 1978, with subsequent appearances on Evening at the Improv (A&E), Stand Up Spotlight (VH1), and clubs around the world. She has also appeared on a bevy shows and documentaries in effort to educate audiences about cerebral palsy, including Inside America, Wisecracks, E! True Hollywood Story, Biography, Hemispheres: A Documentary about Cerebral Palsy, and Good Morning America.
She has been the recipient of many awards, including the 1992 Founders Award, the 2005 Independent Living Legacy Award, and a National Rehabilitation Hospital Victory Award in 2006.
In 2011, Geri Jewell came out in a big way, publishing an autobiography called Iâ€™m Walking As Straight As I Can. During a book tour stop in San Francisco over Pride weekend this year, she charmed and inspired an audience at the Duboce Park Cafe of LGBTs and people with disabilities. This remarkable, self-effacing woman could not have been be more kind and generous with her time. Eyes glowed with admiration and appreciation for a woman that could make often heart-breaking stories funny.
For finding humor in the most dispiriting circumstances. For your honesty that inspires the same from others. For using your large microphone to debunk ignorance and prejudice. We name you Geri Jewell, our Person of the Week.