Almost every day, Joe Genera, who uses a wheelchair, gets up before dawn and drives to the train station to make the trip to Manhattan where he rehearses or performs on the stage or screen, along with taking voice and acting lessons.
This month, the Connecticut actor who has landed roles on the TV shows 30 Rock, Unusual Suspects, and Secret Lives of Husbands and Wives; has sung at the Met; and has penned an autobiography will take center stage as one of the masters of ceremonies for the first New York City Disability Pride Parade. The parade on July 12 is part of the festivities celebrating the 25th anniversary of the landmark 1990 legislation the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) that aims to provide equal access for people with disabilities.
Genera, who was present at the original signing of the ADA, said he sees his role as an opportunity to open a dialogue with Americans on disability.
“I’ve always felt that we need to create more understanding about what it means to have a disability, and I like to accomplish that through openness and humor,” said Genera, 53. “I’ve been in this wheelchair for 30 years, and I’m here to say that we can accomplish great things when we all give each other a chance and work together.”
Genera reignited his lifelong passion for acting and singing five years ago. He decided he would hit the streets of New York to, as he says, literally roll his way back into the entertainment industry.
“I had to sell myself as an actor or singer, often helping to find ways to incorporate the chair. I’m breaking barriers while Broadway bound!” he said.
The parade will begin at Madison Square Park and take a route down Broadway to Union Station Park. At Union Station Park, Genera will act as the host/emcee for the afternoon, announcing other entertainers and speakers and cracking jokes. Thousands are expected to attend the celebration.
For more information, visit www.disabilitypridenyc.com.