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R.J. Mitte Comes to Notre Dame

Miko Malabute | Monday, September 30, 2013

Tonight at 7:30 p.m. in Washington Hall, SUB presents R.J. Mitte of the hit AMC show “Breaking Bad” to talk about his life growing up with cerebral palsy.  Specifically, he will confront the subject of bullying and how, through his own struggles and hardships, his condition has offered him a valuable and unique perspective on life and the value of humanity. 

Mitte is no stranger to the cruelties and insensitivities that man has historically and continually shown each other. Best known for his role in “Breaking Bad” as Walter Jr. (Flynn) Mitte plays the role of the physically challenged son of Walter White, the protagonist-turned-antagonist-turned-tragic-hero-turned-anti-hero. Since the beginning of the series, Flynn faced outward bullying and scorn, something that all of the viewers could rally against and something that allowed the audience to sympathize with Flynn. 

However, the cruelties and hardships that Mitte faced were not limited to the boundaries of a script and some very well done acting: Mitte has faced bullying and wrongful treatment all of his life. Late last year, Mitte appeared on HLN’s “Dr. Drew On Call” to talk about a few of the cases of bullying he experienced.

“I was choked out when we were running in PE. I had my hand broken because I was winning in sports by, like, one point. To put me out of the game they kicked my hand and broke it,” Mitte recounted. 

However, Mitte acknowledged the love and strength he received from others who defended him as well. “I was lucky enough that my family, my friends, everyone stood up for me,” he said. “When someone pushed me down, I had one of my friends [stand] up for me, [protect] me.” Mitte said he hopes to spread these kinds of messages of strength, courage and intolerance for ignorance and bullying. 

It is Mitte’s hope that he is able to add to the understanding of people with cerebral palsy and other disabilities, as well as the intolerance for bullying of any kind, through talks much like the one tonight.  However, Mitte’s message is not necessarily one that begs of people’s mercy or protection. Rather, Mitte truly hopes to spread awareness to people of the capabilities that the so-called “disabled” have.

“The biggest thing is, being disabled doesn’t mean you’re disabled. You can do anything you want, and that’s what I try to tell people that are being bullied who happen to have a disability. It’s not you who makes this. You can do whatever you want,” Mitte said.

True to his word, Mitte himself has accomplished feats that even many of the most successful actors could not achieve – disabled, abled or otherwise. Mitte has been an integral part for the entire five seasons of the wildly successful series “Breaking Bad,” he has been named by the Screen Actors Guild as the spokesman for actors with disabilities, he is the face of  “Inclusion in the Arts and Media of Performers with Disabilities,” an organization that employs artists with disabilities. Most of all, Mitte is a successful man who has risen in spite of all of his naysayers and ill-wishers and has proven that with a driven mind and a passionate heart, anyone is able to accomplish anything.