Disabilities do not limit one’s potential, as “Breaking Bad” actor RJ Mitte represents.
Mitte spoke to avid fans Thursday evening about his experiences on the show, but Mitte’s main focus was to raise awareness for disabilities, which left students inspired by his passion for the cause.
Mitte spoke to about 500 Ohio State students about his experiences as an actor with cerebral palsy. He came to campus as a part of the Ohio Union Activities Board sponsored event “Breaking Good: Raising Awareness with RJ Mitte.”
At the age of 3, Mitte was diagnosed with a mild form of cerebral palsy. Mitte spent his childhood and early teens at the Shriners hospitals working to overcome the challenges of his disability.
Mitte was in the right place at the right time when his younger sister was auditioning for acting roles in Hollywood. The casting director for the project asked if Mitte could act and he auditioned on the spot.
“I just happened to be in the lobby waiting for them and the agent comes out and said, ‘What about him?’ And she hands me the script and I get it, and it just took off from there,” Mitte said in an interview with The Lantern.
One of Mitte’s first roles was on “Hannah Montana” as a school jock in 2007, according to IMDb.
Mitte found success and has never looked back. At 21, he has made a name for himself in Hollywood and helped bring awareness to cerebral palsy.
“I’ve been lucky enough to be on a show like ‘Breaking Bad’ that shows a character with disabilities,” Mitte said.
Mitte is not ashamed of his disability. Mitte said he doesn’t let cerebral palsy stop him from living a life full of positivity, despite being bullied for his differences as a child.
Tenley Braun, member of OUAB and second-year in strategic communication, proposed bringing Mitte to campus because of his career relevance and message.
“RJ is our age, and he also has a disability that is not talked about a lot,” Braun said.
Braun found Mitte’s willingness to raise awareness for disabilities, an issue that is not frequently addressed on campus, was something the student body needed to hear.
Students were pleasantly surprised to hear personal stories about Mitte’s experiences as an actor with a disability and his encouraging words to audience members with disabilities.
Jack McLaughlin, second-year in marketing, said he enjoyed hearing about Mitte’s challenges because it was not what he was expecting the young star to speak about.
“I’ve seen the show ‘Breaking Bad’ and I was pleasantly surprised by what he had to say, not about the show,” McLaughlin said. “Just to see that people that have disabilities can do what he’s doing is really inspiring.”
Mitte’s spirit was infectious during his speech and Q-and-A session. His sense of humor was reminiscent of his iconic portrayal of Walt Jr.
“It’s important to find joys in the little things,” Mitte said.
At one point in the evening, Mitte began coughing and reached for his water bottle to clear his throat. He cracked a joke that his mother, Dyna Mitte, was giving him the evil eye for getting side tracked.
“She’s giving me that look,” Mitte said, chuckling along with the audience. In that moment, the room felt more like the “Breaking Bad” breakfast table than the Archie Griffin Ballroom.
Thursday evening was Mitte’s fourth awareness speech in the last few days. When asked what Mitte enjoys doing in his spare time, he said he is always working.
“Me time?” Mitte said. “I don’t really have any, but I do love to sleep, and I’m addicted to Netflix.”
Mitte joked that he has seen everything on Netflix.
In an interview with The Lantern before his speech, Mitte said when he watches “Breaking Bad” on Netflix, he fast-forwards through his parts.
McLaughlin said he thought Mitte was down-to-earth. Mitte explained that he does not like being treated differently because of his acting career.
Mitte was excited during the Q-and-A session to tell the audience he would take a picture with them all after the speech.
“I’ll be by that white backdrop back there after this… and I mean it, I will take a picture with every one of you here,” Mitte said.
The line stretched practically out of the ballroom as he took hundreds of pictures and personally thanked students for coming.
Mitte’s speech was inspiring and heartfelt. He not only left students educated about disabilities, but he also inspired students to believe in themselves no matter their situation.
“At the end of the day, that’s all you can hope, that you face who you are,” Mitte said.