INSPIRATION cur8tor | SUNDAY
"LIFE IS A GIFT, AND WHAT WE DO WITH OUR LIFE IS OUR GIFT BACK TO THE WORLD, TO OTHERS, AND TO OURSELVES"
Angela Rockwood was born in Clovis, New Mexico, and experienced the world growing up as the child of a career military man. She started modeling at the age of 17, later becoming a fitness instructor, which led her into the world of martial arts. At 22, she relocated to Los Angeles, and within a year was engaged to her best friend. They bought a house and she fell back into the entertainment world by launching an acting career, with small roles in The Fast and the Furious and the syndicated television series V.I.P.
Angela’s life was practically perfect until turmoil struck one week before 9/11 on September 3, 2001. She and her two bridesmaids were driving home from a trip in San Francisco when her girlfriend spun out of control. Angela was in the backseat and was thrown through the side-rear triangular window suffering a broken neck and severed spinal cord; as a result she was diagnosed as a c4 quadriplegic.
When Angela awoke from surgery, she was given a 3 to 5 % chance of regaining any movement from the neck down. She felt her paralysis was for a reason, that she had a mission to fulfill. Unable to move or feel anything, she knew instantly she had two things left; life and her indomitable spirit. She stated she’s "had a huge choice to make: to turn a catastrophic situation into something extraordinary and to be a powerful voice for others in similar devastating situations”.
Angela, a martial artist and a firm believer in alternative methods of healing didn’t accept her doctor’s prognosis. Two months after the accident, with numbness in her hands, she was able to wiggle her left index finger, a dramatic moment captured live on an Entertainment Tonight piece about the ‘Power of the Mind’. And then, just a month later, she touched the top of her head. In 2003, she was the third American to undergo a pioneering stem cell surgery in Portugal, which allowed her to later operate a manual wheelchair. Although Angela is unable to move her fingers fully, she can feed herself, paint, train in martial arts and apply her own makeup.
As an Ambassador for the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, Angela represents the Paralysis Resource Center in outreach to Asian-American communities. She serves as a spokes model for Ti-Lite Wheelchairs and has also worked as a model for Target, Nordstrom and Toyota. Angela has also appeared on Larry King Live, and in People Magazine discussing how to live life to the fullest since her paralysis. She has energized her acting career by landing in three national commercials for AARP, Mabelline, and Sony. Angela is also featured in CinemAbility, a documentary to be released in 2013, directed by Jenni Gold, which includes Ben Affleck, Jaime Foxx, and Jane Seymour
After her injury, she chose not to focus on the negative, but instead to go down a positive path, hoping to be an example for others and especially those in the disability community. Her tenacious attitude and purposeful personality allowed her to shatter the negative stereotypes as opposed to focusing on them. With her ultimate mission of pushing boundaries, she created, produced and stars in the Sundance Channel's, ‘’Critic’s Choice Awards’’, Best Reality series Push Girls. The show follows the lives of five women living with paralysis while cultivating their friendship as they undertake everyday life. The exposure of Push Girls has given her the opportunity to make television appearances on Ellen, Jeff Probst Show, Marie Osmond, Access Hollywood, Inside Edition, Good Day LA, Extra, Huffington Post Live, Kcal 9, Katie Couric Show, Good Morning America, and a return segment on Entertainment Tonight. She even had an appearance at The White House!
Angela continues to fulfill her post-accident vision by sharing her own experience with hopes of creating a change within others that reignites the human will. She is passionately relentless in manifesting change and implementing ideas through her teaching at the Joey Travolta Theatre ‘Manifestation Classes’. She has also taught her classes at the Performing Arts Studio West through Meet the Biz Workshops. As an innovator, she has successfully spoken about ‘Living to the Fullest’ at Rancho Amigos Hospital, L.A. Rescue Mission Assembly, and Edwards Air Force Base. Angela has shared her secrets of ‘The Beauty from Within’ for the Miss Global Organization of 2013 & 2014. A group of 4,000 Paul Mitchell students in Las Vegas, and the California Association of Realtors were the recipients of a topic close to her heart; ‘Pushing the Limits’. Most recently Angela has been chosen by Brig Gen Michael Brewer of the 412th Test Wing Commander to be the 2016 Honorary Commander for Edwards Air Force Base.
Angela is a vessel that is inspired by her grand purpose, deep within her soul she carries this mantra daily: "Life is a gift and what we do with our life is our gift back to the world, to others, and to ourselves."