Introduced to millions as “Cousin Geri”, Geri Jewell has risen to become a leading force in disabilities advocacy. Geri started her acting career as the personal choice of famed producer Norman Lear for her role as Cousin Geri on the ground-breaking NBC sitcom, The Facts of Life. With this role she became the first person with a visible disability to become a regular performer on a national, prime-time television show. During her run on the show she broke barriers by addressing issues of disability awareness.
Geri is not only an exceptional actress and comedienne, she is internationally recognized as a powerful and motivational speaker and trainer. She is famous for her uncanny ability to captivate the hearts of audiences by using humor to facilitate attitude changes. Geri brings to her presentations personal experience of having her behavior and actions misunderstood because of her cerebral palsy. By sharing her disability as her greatest blessing, and revealing insights about the world as she sees it, Geri turns the focus from disabilities to a true celebration of ability, resulting in an inspiring, empowering and healing experience.
Geri’s advocacy also translates to her workshop and training skills. She is one of the original trainers in the internationally recognized disability awareness training program, WINDMILLS. Her knowledge of workforce development, transitioning, and human relation skills assists her in the development of many exciting workshops.
Geri continues to entertain many with her acting. She was personally selected to be part of the Emmy winning HBO series, Deadwood where she became qualified to be nominated for an individual Emmy for her portrayal of “Jewell”. She is also a re-occurring character on, Young and the Restless and was recently featured on Strong Medicine. If holding three roles at one time wasn’t enough, Geri just made her film debut in an independent feature that was recently shown at the Tribecca and Fort Lauderdale Film Festivals.
Most recently, Geri was honored by the National Rehabilitation Hospital in Washington, DC with their highest honor – The Victory Award – and participated in the inauguration of President Obama at the United Cerebral Palsy’s Power Pride Ball, the first and only inaugural activity for people with disabilities, and most recently the Golden Halo Award presented by the Southern California Motion Picture Council.
The current chapter of Geri’s life is perhaps one of the most exciting, She has written an autobiography, I’m Walking As Straight As I Can: Transcending Disability in Hollywood and Beyond. Her book has gained national acclaim including The Independent Publishers – First place Gold Award for best Memoir of 2012.