Adam Pearson is a British actor, presenter, and social activist who was diagnosed with neurofibromatosis as a kid. It drastically altered Adam’s look. Faced with this stigma, he did not give up but instead chose to educate the world about this illness while also pursuing a career in film and television.
Neil is Adam’s twin sibling.
On January 6, 1985, Adam Pearson and his identical brother, Neil, were born. Adam was five years old when he unintentionally bumped his head. The bump that formed as a result of the injury did not heal and instead remained on his cranium. He was later diagnosed with neurofibromatosis type I, a rare congenital condition that causes benign tumors to grow on neural tissue and is currently incurable.
The tumors on Adam’s face grew and permanently altered his look. Neil, his twin sibling, was also diagnosed with neurofibromatosis, but his symptoms were different. Neil’s appearance has not changed, but Adam claims he has a “terrible short-term memory.”
Faced rejection and bullying at school
The disease appeared during Adam’s youth. As a result, the child was frequently teased at school, given various nicknames, and severely humiliated. Adam felt like an outcast, but no one knew what to do about it. Pearson once recounted one of the most traumatic events that occurred to him at school. One of the students stated that the instructor desired to see him in class. When Adam arrived, however, it was not the instructor who awaited him, but a group of other children. “I got spit all over my blazer,” he stated. “That was heinous.”
“I used to stand outside the school gates in the morning, take a massive deep breath and let it happen. I knew what I was in for. It was continuous name-calling.” – Adam Pearson
Adam, on the other hand, did not let years of bullying affect him, his self-esteem, or his prospects. Adam reminded himself that this wasn’t productive, and that’s just the way he is, as soon as he felt discouraged and the idea came to him that the bullies had beaten him. Pearson stated, “It’s all I’ve ever known.” It’s a big component of who I am. It would have been equivalent to saying, “Why am I this tall?”
In 2013, he made his film début.
Adam finished Brighton University and worked in television production for the BBC and Channel 4. Then, in 2011, his life took an unexpected change. He got a call from the charity Changing Faces, informing him that the film Under the Skin producers was looking for someone to portray a character. Adam accepted the opportunity and co-starred with Scarlett Johansson. This was his long-awaited chance to demonstrate to the world that anyone, regardless of appearance, can achieve their dreams.
“One of the main reasons for taking the role was because it was so moving and honest. For me, the film is about what the world looks like without knowledge and without prejudice. It’s about seeing the world through alien eyes, I guess.” – Adam Pearson
This was not his only part. Adam Pearson was featured in two short films in 2015, Rodentia and Oddity. The latter was named Best Film by the Cheltenham Film Society. Pearson also co-starred with Jess Weixler in the thriller Chained for Life in 2019.
Became a presenter and documentarian
Adam saw his acting career as a way to emerge from the shadows eventually. He appeared in an episode of the Horizon documentary series and presented several documentaries about himself and his illness on the BBC. My Amazing Twin was the title of the episode, which told the tale of Adam and his brother Neil. Pearson was shortlisted for a Grierson Award for UK Documentary Presenter of the Year in 2016.
Adam Pearson began acting as a presenter as well. On Channel 4, he hosted the first episodes of Beauty and the Beast and was featured as a reporter on Tricks of the Restaurant Trade. Furthermore, Adam became a frequent guest on the Spark Sunderland radio show The Bedtime Babble On, which airs on weeknights at 10 p.m.
Actively fights against the stigmatization of people with physical abnormalities.
Adam Pearson has been getting regular hospital treatment since childhood and has endured approximately 30 medical procedures to help him deal with some of the tumors. He saw a sign for Changing Faces while visiting Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children in London. They assist anyone with scars, marks, or illnesses that impact their look.
Pearson understood he wanted to be involved with the charity immediately and has been actively supporting it ever since. Volunteers have taught Adam Pearson that if someone mistreats him, they “are the ones with the problem, not you.” Changing Faces also played a part in Pearson receiving his first role. This is how he could assert himself and become visible in a world where people with disabilities are often invisible.
“There’s a lot of fear around the unknown. If I can try to be as normal as possible and show there’s nothing to fear — either on film or day to day, going round the corner to go shopping for milk — then the more people see it in wider society, the less stigma there is. If I just sit at home and mope, hugging the dog and crying, nothing’s going to change.” – Adam Pearson