A 29-year-old Australian actress and comedian whose hair loss was caused by the autoimmune disorder Alopecia Areata has refused to let her condition get in the way of her career.
Georgia Van Cuylenburg is a Hollywood-based actress who moved to the States from Melbourne a decade ago, only to see her hair start to fall out a couple of years after arriving. It is unclear what caused the hair loss as Alopecia Areata has multiple triggers, ranging from allergies to physical or emotional trauma. One of its most common triggers however, is extreme stress and no one ever said that trying to make it in Hollywood was easy.
Alopecia Areata typically manifests itself as sudden, patchy hair loss, and frequently leaves those it affects utterly shell-shocked. There are usually no other symptoms: it does not hurt and is quite literally a case of waking up one morning to find your hair falling out in clumps. Often a diagnosis brings little relief as, although in many cases the hair will grow back naturally and alopecia areata treatment can help to speed this process along, the condition may recur and there is no absolute cure.
There are also more severe iterations of this autoimmune disorder - alopecia totalis and alopecia universalis - for which no effective treatment methods have yet been established.
According to recent reports, George’s hair loss is currently in remission, and has grown enough for her to wear a short bob. In 2013, however, things weren’t quite so rosy, as the actress revealed in a documentary about her Alopecia Areata called Baby Let Your Hair Hang Down. The documentary won a Monaco Charity Film Festival award.
The trailer for the film starts with some stark statistics, stating that 135 million people in the world have Alopecia Areata, and that 15 million children are tormented because of it. It is, in fact, the second most common cause of hair loss worldwide, behind androgenetic alopecia - better known as male pattern baldness and female pattern hair loss.
The documentary aims to show how Georgia decided to go “loud and proud” about her hairloss, as she puts it, allowing cameras into her daily life to experience what it is like for a woman who relies on her appearance to make a living to lose her hair.
The result is a film that, she says, shows the world how she learned that life is not about the hair on your head, “it’s about the lessons you learn, the friends you find and the difference you can make.”
Indeed, the trailer for the film shows Georgia offering support and some laughs to a large number of children with Alopecia Areata. “This isn’t about what’s wrong with us,” she says, “it’s about how beautiful this is, that it brings people together.”
Over the past few years Georgia has established herself as a leading voice artist for video games, now a huge industry with budgets that are sometimes on a par with those of blockbuster movies.
She has provided voices for Final Fantasy games, as well as various Star Wars video game releases. She also voices a character named Sydney in the successful Payday shoot ’em-up franchise.
She is not the only actor with alopecia to find success in video games, however. Action movie star Joseph Gatt, who has Alopecia Universalis, is known for his appearances in big screen blockbusters like Thor and top-rated shows such as Game of Thrones and Z Nation. What may not be as well known is that he has also provided not only the voice but also the bodies of animated characters in roles as a motion capture actor for gaming hits including God of War and Metal Gear Solid.
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