Greenwich and Lewisham Youth Theatre’s Beast who had “two useless fingers lopped off and replaced by the second biggest toe from each foot”, has spoken about the issues faced by disabled actors trying to break the industry.

Richard Stott, 28, was born with Poland Syndrome – a genetic disorder usually affecting the left hand and pectoral muscle – and underwent 15 operations between the ages of one and 11.

The surgery aimed to correct the young actor’s “hunched” shoulder and “webbed” hand after the illness left some of his fingers just an inch long.

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Richard Stott was born with genetic disorder Poland Syndrome

The landmark operations saw Mr Stott’s affected fingers amputated and replaced by the second biggest toe on each foot.

He said: “I was quite affected, not only did I have shorter fingers but they were webbed.

“I didn't have functioning knuckles with two of the fingers in the middle being so short.

“Every summer as a child I would be anticipating the next stay in hospital- it didn’t bother me. I enjoyed the attention afterwards in school, being treated like a war hero.

“Looking back I could have been significantly disabled if no one had stepped in and helped.”

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Mr Stott in Beauty and the Beast at Lewisham and Greenwich Youth Theatre

Mr Stott, who studied at Drama Studio London in Ealing, told News Shopper that his disability has made some auditions uncomfortable.

He said: “It has affected my acting career both positively and negatively - sometimes there is more interest in me for things and some people seem to have great admiration for me.

“I dread going to advert auditions, they make you hold both your hands up to the camera for 10 seconds and this never goes well.”

Recalling his first experience of such an audition, Mr Stott added: “Up until then had I never been made to feel different or not good enough because of my hand - I felt disabled for the first time in my life.

“I lost all my confidence, I dreaded auditions and I started to feel I had no chance at all of succeeding in the industry.”

However, with help from tutors and peers, the actor managed to regain his self-confidence, using personal experiences to play Eric in Lewisham and Greenwich Youth Theatre’s Beauty and the Beast.

Eric was sent away by Beauty, who only wanted to be surrounded by perfect people.

Jilted, he became a Beast, imprisoning Beauty until she fell in love with his kind-hearted nature.


Mr Stott said: “My hand did help me get the part - it was stated in the play that the character must have a physical impairment.

“I think the point the play made about perfection being a shallow and dangerous concept is an extremely strong message.”

Sharing his advice for aspiring actors living with disability or those battling with low-confidence, he said: “Never try and hide your imperfection in this industry, it makes you stand out more and people will actually find them [disabilities] interesting.

“This industry can make you feel three inches tall about your imperfection but only if you let it - people are more open minded then you might think.”

Read more about Poland Syndrome and Richard’s career visit: