My name is Samantha Renke and I am a Lancashire born actress and public speaker who currently lives in east London. I am a former teacher and trustee for the brittle bone society. I have a genetic condition called osteogenesis imperfecta, more commonly known as brittle bones condition which means I am a full-time wheelchair user, but this most certainly doesn't stop me from living life to the full.
I moved to London five years ago to pursue a career in acting and made my debut in indie film Little Devil. I won best actress at the LA Diversity Film Festival. Since Little Devil's success, I featured in a number of projects including last year's ground-breaking Maltesers advert featuring disabled actors.
I am a supporter of the disability charity Scope and patron of Head2Head Theatre Company. I can be seen on a number of television programs speaking out on disability equality. I regularly blog for the Huffington Post and I am a lifestyle columnist for Pos'Ability magazine. As a self-proclaimed fashionista, I love finding a bargain down Brick Lane or on eBay and would love to have my own petite fashion brand in the future. I am a campaigner for better representation of disability within the fashion industry and have recently become involved with DIFA, which is a charity organisation which ushers for equality within the fashion world.
The main struggle I've faced throughout my life has been maintaining my independence. Whether that be within work, in my social life or my home life. The biggest wall I came up against when moving to London was having my independence jeopardised and facing the possibility of having to return home to live with family which ultimately would end my dream of acting. Let's face it no one wants to live with their parents indefinitely.
Up until recently I was living in an apartment not suitable for my needs and living with the constant fear of being made homeless. Not many people are aware that adapted houses are so rare and private rentals do not allow adaptations, meaning many disabled people can never truly live independently or get to experience life how they want to live it.
This is why I've become involved with HABINTEG and their #ForAccessibleHomes Campaign. I believe if you give people the tools they will be integral to society and not a burden. Provide more accessible homes and people with disabilities can live, work, socialise and become valued members of society! Without my home I no doubt wouldn't be doing the work I am now and I would not be the happy optimistic person I am today.
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