Sudden hair loss
can be understandably shocking - it is often traumatic even when it comes on gradually. But, as Hollywood star Anthony Carrigan proves, it shouldn't hold you back.
The actor has a severe autoimmune disorder which causes him to be totally hair-free from head to toe. Known as Alopecia Universalis
, the condition developed in the early days of his acting career.
As a result he had to start wearing wigs and drawing in his eyebrows in order to keep up his character's look, however, the 35 year old said it was not until he embraced his baldness that he started to become successful.
From comic book villain to comedy mobster
A working actor since 2008, Carrigan appeared in many hit TV shows including Law and Order, Parenthood and The Flash. However, the Bostonian made his name playing Victor Zsasz, a serial-killing supervillain, in Emmy-award winning young Batman prequel, Gotham - a role he has played for all four seasons of the popular show.
Now, as Vanity Fair lauds, Anthony Carrigan is the 'scene-stealer' in HBO's dark crime comedy, Barry, which he appears in alongside its creator Bill Hader (pictured), and Henry Winkler. He plays a Candy Crush-loving mobster called Noho Hank in the well-received programme, which has a whopping Rotten Tomatoes user rating of 98 per cent and has already been renewed for a second season before the first has finished airing.
His fame and continuing success all comes after he was initially advised to give up acting due to his hairloss. There are certainly other alopecians in the entertainment industry - British star Matt Lucas
and, Carrigan's friend, action hero Joseph Gatt
, to name but two - but with acting already being such a competitive industry, it was feared that his unique look may make it hard for him to get jobs. Continues below...
Instead, the American took the time to deal with losing his hair - first as the scalp-only Alopecia Areata
, then developing into the more extensive form he has today - and accept it. Then, with renewed confidence and drive to not let this define him, he set about making his way - and found that the roles found him. Detailing his journey towards his career highlight to date - Barry - Carrigan writes in an inspirational Instagram post
Joseph Gatt and Anthony Carrigan at Disneyland Supporting the Children's Alopecia Programme
"...After years of being depressed and feeling hopeless I made the decision to side with myself and make a plan. I opened a notebook and detailed the series that I would be a regular on. The show would be special, well written and compelling. The character I would play would be fun and unique and would be an outlet for everything I had to offer. I even wrote HBO HBO HBO dozens of times in the same page. After years of hustling, tonight it’s happening. This character, on HBO, in this remarkable series. Fully manifested... "
Despite being so in-demand, Anthony Carrigan still makes time to promote alopecia awareness
and help others with the condition. He is often photographed at events for American charity, the Children's Alopecia Project - including a day trip to Disneyland - and has shared his story with the media many times, including making a self-acceptance video
Alopecia Areata - and the various more acute forms of autoimmune alopecia
- affects roughly 2 per cent of the population. It can present in men, women and children of all ages and races. Though its precise cause is unknown, in around 20 per cent of cases there is thought to be a genetic link. A number of triggers have been identified, including sudden shock, physical or emotional trauma, allergies and certain viral or bacterial infections.
Whilst Alopecia Areata treatment
is available for over 16s where only the scalp is affected, there are currently no effective treatment options for the other phenotypes, nor for children under 16 who have any form of the disorder.