Coronation Street actress Cherylee Houston has discussed the evolving treatment of disabled actors.
She received an MBE for services to drama and people with disabilities on November 4.
In fact, the Princess Royal bestowed the award at Buckingham Palace.
Cherylee, 48, was diagnosed with Hypermobility Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (hEDS), a rare connective tissue disorder, when she was 23.
Reflecting on her early career, Cherylee said: “It wasn’t very good as a disabled actor back then.
“I think I only had one job that wasn’t to do with my disability and that was in Little Britain.
“I’d gone for a job in Little Britain as a wheelchair user. They said, ‘Oh, we’ll ask you to read something else as well’ and I got that one, which was lovely.
“I think the world has completely changed to where it was then but there’s still a lot more to go.
“I often was auditioned in the corridors or in the streets or in the car park because there wasn’t access to the audition room.”
Image Credit: ITV
Cherylee said she intended to use the “mindblowing“ honour as best she can to make a change in the disabled acting community.
In 2017, she founded TripleC, “a Community Interest Company with a mission to drive up the role of disabled people in the arts & media and the role of arts & media in the lives of disabled people.”
The Lancashire native said: “The reason I set it up is that I used to do a lot of work in schools.
“And one young lady said to me, she didn’t die, but she was told she might die.
“They refused to do an operation on her, which they eventually did do.
“She phoned me up to say, ‘I want to say thank you. The drama lessons you did for me made a massive difference to my life.
“I was driving to work the next day and thought, ‘You could do this for more people’.”
Image Credit: ITV
Before Coronation Street, Cherylee had appeared in other shows such as Doctors, Emmerdale, Holby City and The Bill.
Cherylee, who has played Izzy Armstrong since April 2010, said she appreciated the character’s depiction.
“I think the brilliant thing about Coronation Street is that they’ve always just portrayed Izzy as a character.
“It hasn’t been that much disability-heavy focus which has been lovely.”