Paralyzed 'Glee' Guest Star Discusses Real Life Injuries
Glee received heat for casting Kevin McHale as Artie, a boy who needs a wheelchair, even though Kevin doesn't have any real life injuries that prevent him from walking. Were producers listening to that harsh criticism? On last week's episode, Finn and Rachel spent time with a boy who suffered a spinal cord injury. That guy's real name is Zach Weinstein, and this role hit very close to home for him.
Five years ago, Zach worked as a summer camp counselor in Maine. On his day off, some counselors went canoeing and while messing around in the water, a friend flipped him over his shoulders and Zach hit the bottom.
"I broke my neck, shattering the C4 through C6 vertebrae. Maybe there was a rock that I hit, maybe it just wasn't as deep as he thought, who knows," Zach says. He was left paralyzed from the upper chest down. "My shoulders, biceps and forearms up to my wrists work, but I don't have use of my hands or triceps."
Despite new challenges, Zach's passion for acting only grew after his accident. "It got stronger because, as cliché as it sounds, I came face to face with how short and fragile life is."
That ambition scored him a guest-spot singing on national television and will undoubtedly land future roles. Of his time on Glee, Zach confides, "It took 12 hours to shoot about five minutes of screen time. They were 12 of the most important hours of my life. I would be wasting time and doing myself a terrible disservice if I didn't wholeheartedly pursue what I love doing."