Woman Born With No Legs And Left At Temple As Baby Is Now A Hollywood Actor
Kanya Sesser is a force of nature who’ll stop at nothing to show the world we can be anything we want to be.
Born with no legs and abandoned on a street near a Buddhist temple when she was a baby, Kanya didn’t exactly have an ordinary start in life.
Not allowing her disability to define her, Kanya is challenging preconceptions of beauty and ability through her modelling and acting work.
The 26-year-old models for athletics and lingerie companies, as well as being a stunt-woman, starring in hit shows including Hawaii Five-0, Code Black and The Walking Dead.
She lives by her personal motto ‘no legs, no limits’, which for Kanya, means ‘anything is possible’, even if it appears to be impossible at first.
Kanya has continued to follow her dreams, after being found on the side of a road near a Buddhist temple in Pak Chong, Thailand, when she was just a few months old.
Kanya revealed to UNILAD how she was found in the early hours of September 13, 1992.
She was then taken to a nearby hospital until she was brought to a foster family in Bangkok, before moving to Oregon, US with her adopted family.
At first, Kanya said she struggled to adapt to life in America, because she was adopted and English wasn’t her first language.
However, she told UNILAD things improved once she went to high school:
During the first year of being adopted it was hard to connect with my new family. My first language was Thai, I had to learn English and I didn’t develop full English until I was about nine years old.
In school I had many friends but I was scared to go to birthday parties and I was shy to meet new people. I was never been bullied, but questioned and looked at, and those things are typical for me, nothing has changed.
But life was amazing in high school. I was a jock, going to all-state championships, had lots of people around me and went to many parties. Those were the years I lived my life carefree.
While at school Kanya had her first modelling shoot at the age of 15. She was given the opportunity to fulfill one of her dreams through the non-profit foundation Dream Factory of Oregon.
Kanya had always wanted to be a model so loved doing the shoot, but she also realised it was a way for her to make a positive impact and real change in the industry.
Although Kanya is comfortable and confident with her own body, she knows others aren’t, realising perspectives of what ‘beauty’ is, needs to change.
So Kanya pursued a career in this field, and went on to become a lingerie and athletics model, breaking boundaries for society’s norms of what a model should look like.
Through her modelling work, Kanya has helped others feel more comfortable about their bodies, opening up a conversation about the definition of beauty.
Speaking to UNILAD, Kanya emphasised it’s vital people support one another:
I want to help women and men to be comfortable with themselves, I want them to find themselves, to love themselves, to have confidence in themselves.
Many have a hard time expressing themselves or feel down or lack self-confidence, so seeing people changing beauty standards does have an impact on their lives. They tell me they have never seen a person surfing or skateboarding without legs, or in a bikini, and it both surprises and intrigues them.
You may feel alone, and seeing someone out there like you modeling may give you comfort and encouragement. I think we all should express each others’ beauty and encourage one another.
Kanya is continuing to spread the message of body positivity, but she isn’t stopping there. She’s also taking on Hollywood.
As a professional stuntwoman Kanya has worked on shows including The Walking Dead and Code Black, but landing her first major acting role in Hawaii Five-0 was a dream come true.
Playing wounded veteran Rosey Valera in the episode He Moho Hou, Kanya was praised for her performance with the show also being commended for casting an actor with a disability.
While many films and television shows have been applauded for representing disability in a positive way, there’s still an issue when it comes to casting, with able-bodied actors predominantly taking a larger portion of roles.
Kanya continued to explain:
I want to change the Hollywood scene, casting real life disabled actors and actresses. We need to make changes and give more opportunities to people like myself and other thriving artists.
Everyone has talent and something that will make an impact in the world. And I think that it’s important to have variety in this industry so it’s not so basic.
Kanya’s role in Hawaii Five-O was important for both her and the industry, and she now has her sights set on getting cast in a film, or as a recurring character on TV.
Although Kanya has achieved much in her life so far, she admits the highlight is being able to give something back to others, including her family who’ve done so much for her.
When she isn’t acting, modelling, doing stunt work, or skateboarding on Venice Beach, Kanya works as a motivational speaker.
Having had low points in her life which left her searching for motivation, faith and advice, Kanya knows how important it is to share messages of encouragement and hope with other young people facing struggles.
Kanya told UNILAD the best advice she followed, which is also what she shares with others, centres on having confidence in yourself:
We cannot let others say what we may or may not be capable of doing and to define us in what we do. There are great things that can be achieved beyond what is considered normal, regardless of the circumstances.
Attitude is everything. Hope and faith in yourself when times are tough, this is tested in life and facing obstacles, that’s when its best to have faith and learn what you’re capable of.
Seeing light at the end of the tunnel when you feel you’ve given everything and feel overwhelmed at the end, you must never give up. Life is a rollercoaster we must achieve through the thick and thin.
There’s no doubt Kanya has achieved ‘through the thick and thin’, and shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon.
Kanya has plenty in the pipeline, but due to the nature of the work, is unable to reveal all the details. As well as work commitments, she’ll also be returning to Thailand for an event with disabled children in foster homes.
She’ll never stop proving ‘no legs means no limits’.
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