- This Is Us season 4 premiered on September 24 and introduced a number of new characters, including Jack Damon, the adult son of Kate and Toby.
- Jack Damon was born with retinopathy of prematurity, an eye condition that will leave him nearly blind for the rest of his life.
- Damon is played by Blake Stadnik, a legally blind actor who advocates for disabled artists. Here are a few important facts to know about Stadnik and his role in the show.
The season four premiere of This Is Us took viewers on a very unexpected journey by introducing three brand new characters. One of them is a adult Jack Damon, Kate and Toby's son who, as a baby, is diagnosed with retinopathy of prematurity (ROP), a condition that leaves him blind, beyond "seeing see some light, maybe some shapes."
Jack's adult character is played by musical theatre actor Blake Stadnik, who is also legally blind. Following the season premiere, the show's creator Dan Fogelman told Entertainment Tonight that finding a low-vision actor to play the part was crucial, and when they found Stadnik, they had no question he was a perfect fit.
Because he grew up in theatre, available background information on Stadnik is limited. So, until he settles further into the This Is Us family and his celebrity grows, here are the basics.
1. This Is Us is Stadnik's first television role.
Talk about a breakout opportunity. According to ET, Fogelman and his peers began scouting for the role of Jack Damon during their time off between seasons three and four, and when they found Stadnik, he was committed to starring in Guys and Dolls, a Colorado-based musical theatre production. In the past, he has played leading roles in Newsies, Sweeney Todd, and 42nd Street.
"He was actually in a local production in Colorado that we had to get him out of in order to shoot the order, but he had never acted on camera before," Fogelman said. "It was quite a trial by fire for him and he just blew us away in every possible way." Right now, it's unclear how often Stadnik will appear in season four. Fogelman wasn't willing to provide much intel other than confirmation that he will be back at some point.
"It's a difficult period to go to all the time because we're pretty deep into the future and it presents production challenges. We do plan on returning to it," he said. "Right now, we're telling stories in the beginning half of the season that focus a little bit more on the present-day stories. But it is a place we're heading towards again multiple times, especially because we had a young man who was acting on camera for the first time in his entire life. Sometimes the parts get even bigger than you were planning on making them."
2. He's from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
More specifically, he's from Beaver County, Pennsylvania. According to the Beaver County Times, he belonged to North Sewickley Township and attended Lincoln Park Performing Arts Charter School in Midland as well as Riverside High School. He also graduated from Penn State's musical theatre program.
3. Stadnik was diagnosed with Stargardt disease at age 6.
In an interview previewing his 2015 performance in 42nd Street, Stadnik told The Daily Pilot that he was diagnosed with Stargardt disease, a form of macular degeneration, at six years old. He said his vision is blurry with blind spots and he has trouble distinguishing colors. According to the National Eye Institute, Stargardt disease is a genetic disorder that causes progressive damage to the center of the retina, which is responsible for sharp, linear vision.
"It just clicked," Stadnik told The Daily Pilot about his love for performance. "I don't know if I'd be doing this without my condition. It's actually been a blessing in disguise."
4. He's an advocate for disabled artists.
In his Instagram bio, he describes himself as such, and he shared a heartfelt post thanking Fogelman and This Is Us executive producer and director Ken Olin for prioritizing disability representation on TV. "When I was young, it would have been so special to see some on television with whom I could relate telling a story like Jack's," he captioned a photo with the showrunners. "To any child or adult with a disability who might read this, you are not alone. You have a caring and giving community ready to embrace you, and there are countless others like Dan Fogelman, Ken Olin, and the @nbcthisisus family who are willing to help lift you up on your journey to achieving your dreams."
5. His Instagram is precious.
That said, if you don't follow him already, you really should. He may have only created the account after being cast for the show, considering his first post was made on July 15. So far, he's posted plenty of adorable dog content and claims to be a Jedi in training, as well as a Dungeons & Dragons dungeon master, so his journey to a full grid will probably be as enjoyable to watch as Jack Damon's fictional story.
Like what you just read? You'll love our magazine! Go here to subscribe. Don't miss a thing by downloading Apple News here and following Prevention. Oh, and we're on Instagram too.
Everything to Know About Blake Stadnik, the Blind Actor Who Plays Jack Damon on 'This Is Us', Source:https://www.prevention.com/life/a29322277/blake-stadnik-this-is-us-jack-damon-actor/