ability is not a barrier to achieving greatness and that disabled people are really just like anyone else.. In this issue we are getting up close and personal


with Samantha Renke. Samantha Renke is an

award-winning actress, presenter, writer and charity worker who will be known to many from starring in a series of Malteser advertisements on TV. Samantha Renke was born

in Munster, West Germany, in 1986. Her father, a member of the British Military, and German mother, were stationed there. Sam was born with a condition called Osteogenesis Imperfecta or ‘OI’, which is more commonly known as Brittle Bone Disease. As the name suggests, the bones of people who have the condition are fragile and easily broken. Indeed, when she was born Samantha had multiple fractures and was taken to a specialist department to look after her and ascertain the cause. It was soon apparent that she had a grade 3 OI,

one of the non-genetic types of Brittle Bone Disease and the prognosis given by the German doctors was not good. However, Samantha’s farther wasn’t prepared to accept that and so moved the family to Lancashire in the UK, where they got in touch with the Brittle Bone Society who helped them to manage and look after Samantha in her infant years. This was quite an emotional time for her German mother, who had to quickly learn to speak English, and heartbreaking too for her grandmother, left behind, who used to look after her older sister. By the time Samantha was ready to start school

she was, at first, sent to a school for people with special needs, but it soon became apparent that she was bright and able enough to be educated at mainstream schools. It was while she was a teenager that Samantha

had her first taste of acting through a number of school drama classes and other drama groups.


Getting to Know You – Samantha Renke

BILITY NEEDS continues with its series of ‘Getting to Know You’ profiles of inspirational disabled people, to illustrate that having a dis-

Although Samantha enjoyed drama and acting she also witnessed, firsthand, the difficulties often faced by disabled people wanting to get into the acting profession. More often than not, she wouldn’t be selected for any key roles or even picked at all. Things came to a head when one of the drama clubs she attended was to be visited by a London scout, looking for people to star in a stage production of Oliver. The drama coach took Samantha to one side and bluntly told her not to get any high hopes of being picked due to her disability. Naturally, this broke Samantha’s heart and she effectively gave up any aspirations of becoming an actress. After completing her school

and spokesperson for the Brittle Bone Society.

education, Samantha went to Lancaster University to study a languages (French & German) and sociology degree. Following that she did a Post Graduate Certificate of Education at the University of Cumbria and entered the education profession as a languages and special needs teacher at St Wilfred’s Secondary School in Blackburn. Samantha also likes to do charily work and in 2010 became a trustee It was

her love and passion for charity work that inspired Samantha to up roots, leave the teaching profession, and move to London to pursue more charity work, landing an initial position with Action for Children. Out one night in London, Samantha and her friends

got invited to a party attended by many people from the film and TV industry.

It was at this party she met

her now business partner, producer and director, Max Barber. This chance meeting with Max reignited Samantha’s interest in acting. Max was toying with the idea of doing an Indi-film called ‘Little Devil’ a story about a mischievous disabled girl who absconds to London to find love and opportunity. Fortune shone on Samantha as she landed the central character role of Alice Gardner. Not only that, but she was to play alongside Hollywood heavyweight, DeObia Oparei, who is probably best known for his role in the popular TV series Game of Thrones and more recently the blockbuster sequel Independence Day – Resurgence. Little Devil went onto great acclaim, winning two awards at the Los Angeles Diversity Film Festival,

Ability Needs Magazine

Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36  |  Page 37  |  Page 38  |  Page 39  |  Page 40  |  Page 41  |  Page 42  |  Page 43  |  Page 44  |  Page 45  |  Page 46  |  Page 47  |  Page 48  |  Page 49  |  Page 50  |  Page 51  |  Page 52  |  Page 53  |  Page 54  |  Page 55  |  Page 56  |  Page 57  |  Page 58  |  Page 59  |  Page 60