Community//

Danny Gomez: “We would like to be treated as equals”

I would say that I know how difficult it is to have a physical disability, but the true limitation in life is a negative mindset. Once you change your mindset and believe in yourself, doors will start to open for you. You just have to go out and seek new opportunities. Furthermore, don’t be afraid […]

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I would say that I know how difficult it is to have a physical disability, but the true limitation in life is a negative mindset. Once you change your mindset and believe in yourself, doors will start to open for you. You just have to go out and seek new opportunities. Furthermore, don’t be afraid to say “yes” to opportunities that scare you because you never know what is on the other side.


As a part of our “Unstoppable” series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Danny Gomez.

Danny Gomez is an actor and model who moved to Los Angeles from New Orleans after losing his home in Hurricane Katrina. He spent years working in the service industry at night and auditioning during the day to no avail, but he never gave up. In May of 2016, he suffered a spinal cord injury that forced him to reevaluate his life and his goals. Danny is now in full pursuit of making the best of life while working with various non-profits who help people with disabilities. He credits the Easterseals Disability Film Challenge for helping to kick-start his acting career. He has starred in a number of award-winning shorts films for the annual competition which has led to job opportunities, including a modeling campaign with Zappos Adaptive and a guest appearance on NBC’s hit medical drama New Amsterdam. He hopes to continue to be a positive force advocating for the disability community in the entertainment industry.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! It is really an honor. Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you share your “backstory” with us?

I am originally from New Orleans, LA, but was displaced by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. In pursuit of my dream career of acting, I moved to Los Angeles with some of my friends. Everything started out well until I quickly fell into the trappings of the Hollywood lifestyle. Before I knew it, crucial years were flying by while my career remained at a standstill. After sustaining a life-altering injury that left me paralyzed from the waist down, I examined my life, my actions, my goals, and my ambitions. It was at that moment that everything came into focus; from that point on, I swore to take charge of my second chance and truly become serious with my acting career.

Do you feel comfortable sharing with us the story surrounding how you became disabled or became ill?

Of course. I feel that it is extremely important to share my store to hopefully inspire others, especially those who suffer from this terrible injury.

In May of 2016, I was severely injured in a mountain biking accident. At 33 years old, I became paralyzed from the waist down, entirely changing the world as I knew it. Surviving this accident is what really caused me to put everything into perspective.

What mental shift did you make to not let that “stop you”?

My journey to a better mindset was a gradual, yet powerful one. To get myself into the frame of mind of an achiever, I started listening to motivational speeches in the morning. Then, I would let them continuously play throughout my day. Over time,

this progressed into more changes. Soon, I started exercising, taking charge of my day, eating better, and even going to bed earlier. All these healthy habits collectively culminated into a better lifestyle, granting me the clarity on what I had to do to succeed.

Can you tell our readers about the accomplishments you have been able to make despite your disability or illness?

The key to my success was confidence. When I finally started feeling comfortable with my new self, I suddenly had this newfound confidence. Instead of pitying myself or feeling ashamed, I embraced my disability and my situation. That is when I realized that having this second chance was the push I needed to pursue my dreams. After being on death’s doorstep, I figured that I have nothing else to lose. With this in mind, I joined a disability film challenge for Easterseals. Amazingly, our film ended up winning “best film”. This opened new doors for me as I was then signed by an acting agency. Through this, I went to several auditions and even booked some small roles and commercials. After these successes, I became more determined than ever. Eventually, I booked my first big guest star role on NBC’s New Amsterdam. During this time, I also became an ambassador for the Triumph Foundation- a foundation that helps people with paralysis live their life in the best ways possible.

What advice would you give to other people who have disabilities or limitations?

I would say that I know how difficult it is to have a physical disability, but the true limitation in life is a negative mindset. Once you change your mindset and believe in yourself, doors will start to open for you. You just have to go out and seek new opportunities. Furthermore, don’t be afraid to say “yes” to opportunities that scare you because you never know what is on the other side.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are?

I can’t solely be grateful for one person; I believe that it was groups of people who, along my journey, helped elevate me to succeed. I owe so much gratitude to the Triumph Foundation and my rehab gym, Abilities Recovery Center (ARC). Jeff Lefkowitz, the owner of ARC, and his team helped me get back in shape and be more confident in my self-image. They taught me a lot and became my family for life. The Triumph Foundation, founded by Andrew Skinner, welcomed me with open arms, showing me a world where sports and disability were possible. Going to peer group meetings, which allowed me to speak about my journey was also a huge factor. I love that telling my story is able to help those who are struggling.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

With my successes, I’ve been able to reach a larger audience on social media. Through my channels, I have been able to show people that you can overcome any obstacle, no matter the challenge. So long as you have faith in yourself and faith in the process, you can accomplish anything.

Can you share “5 things I wish people understood or knew about people with physical limitations” and why.

1. Just because we are disabled doesn’t mean that we’re not able to achieve our goals.

2. Disability is what makes us stronger, as we face constant challenges throughout the day.

3. We would like to be treated as equals.

4. Please educate yourself on what it’s like to be disabled. Reach out to a friend, don’t be afraid to ask questions.

5. Stop parking in accessible spots if you are not disabled.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”?

“The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place and I don’t care how tough you are it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard ya hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done!” — Sylvester Stallone, Rocky Balboa

Thank you for these excellent insights!

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