Wheelchair actress stars in festive movie

Ali Stroker in Christmas Ever
Ali Stroker in Christmas Ever Image credit:

A disabled actress and former Glee star is making a name for herself appearing in a holiday rom-com movie being aired on US TV.

Ali Stroker became the first wheelchair actor to bag a Tony Award for her role in the 2019 remake of Rodgers & Hammerstein's Oklahoma!

This year she plays a romantic author called Izzi Simmons in Christmas Ever After, as the movie won’t will only air in the USA allow us to give you a brief synopsises of what us Brits will be missing over the festive period when we are watching repeats on the box.

Every Christmas Izzi stays at the same inn where she spends time writing a new novel, but this particular year she has writer’s block.

Fortunately she finds inspiration from a dashing young gentleman called Matt (Daniel di Tomasso) who is not only the new owner of the inn but also has a striking resemblance to her lead character from Izzi’s books.

Stroker, who played Betty Pillsbury in Glee told PEOPLE: "When I was growing up, I was always so nervous, like, 'Am I ever going to have a relationship? Am I going to have a love story in my life?' I wanted that so much.

"I wish I had seen stories like this, I wish I had seen myself represented in that narrative, it would have made such a difference in my life.

"When things get really difficult, I remember that it is not just about me. It's about all of those people with disabilities, my community, seeing themselves represented in mainstream media, on screen and onstage."

Sharing advice to any youngsters who see a bit of themselves in Stroker’s character she tells them: "That's you, baby! That story can be yours and love can exist for you — a holiday rom-com could be your real life. You matter and you count and your voice is important, and you are important."

Of course there were a few changes made whilst filming to ensure actors complied within COVID-19 regulations, they had to screen kiss through plexiglass.

"It's totally nuts," di Tomasso said. "Kissing through plexiglass, it just feels like you're in high school — it was hilarious."

Ali Stroker has been paralyzed from the chest down since she was two years old.