Still Standing: Anita Hollander to Perform at USF
You could say performing is in Anita Hollander's blood. After all, she's been singing, dancing and acting since she was 8. When she was 26, she lost her leg to cancer, but she kept on going.
"I went on with my career just normally as a performer who just happened to have an artificial leg,"Hollander said. "And somehow I got introduced to a whole world of other performers who have disabilities and they sort of pushed me ahead." She's now National Co-Chair of Performers with Disabilities for SAG-AFTRA. And in that capacity, works to promote more "presence of performers with disabilities in all media, including stage, television, film."
Hollander said each of the songs in her show presents a "tool for survival," such as sense of perspective and humor. The latter is something she often employs.
For example, her "trademark" headshot shows Hollander with one of her legs slung over her shoulder. That's her real artificial leg. The idea for that pose came to her when she was being photographed by the Washington Post. At the time, she was in a play set in the Wild West, where a dance hall girl loses her leg after being shot. Hollander said some people who saw the picture thought that she was a contortionist. But she said the idea came easily, since she often carries her prosthesis over her shoulder when walking on crutches.
Despite the pain and the difficulty, Hollander seems to have found joy in her journey. "Pain kind of puts you in a situation where you learn what joy really is, because when you're not in pain, you just feel this incredible elation, you feel good and things don't hurt anymore," Hollander said. She credits her family with helping her to get through the hard times with humor and love.