Kara Sui-Lun Poon 潘瑞麟
is an actor, makeup artist, and aspiring Renaissance Woman. Born in Oakland, CA, she spent a portion of her childhood in Hong Kong before moving to the Napa wine country.
She graduated from UC Berkeley in 2020, double majoring in comparative literature (English & Chinese), and theatre & performance studies. She also embarked upon an abroad program in 2018 at the University of Cambridge, concentrating on English dramaturgy.
Kara has acted in numerous student stage and film productions, modeled and was the head of beauty for Cal’s Fashion and Student Trends (FAST), and became the spokesmodel for EQL Threads (previously Lux Adaptive Wear). Her wide range of other passions include screenwriting and directing, playing the piano and saxophones, and exploring flavorful wines such as Cabernet Sauvignon.
Kara's array of experiences around the world, as well as her identity as a disabled artist, has informed her to tell stories in as universally accessible ways as possible. Her mission is to live and experience life to its fullest, in order to seek and spread human empathy.
She is currently residing and working in the San Francisco Bay Area.
What it means to be a S.Poon(ie)
AKA living with chronic illnesses and disabilities.
The term "spoonie" relates to the Spoon Theory*, first authored by Christine Miserandino in 2003. Since then, variations and related theories have popped up in the field of disability studies. Essentially, a spoonie like me has a limited amount of energy to expend, due to disabilities and, more specifically, to chronic illnesses. It can be more difficult for me to do something that seems mundane to any able-bodied person, so I have to advocate for myself.
I consider myself a disabilities activist — given how much these issues are part of my daily life, it's nearly impossible not to talk about it. I am very open about my health issues because it is just a fact of life; you are welcome to ask me anything that piques your curiosity. But I rarely tell the whole story during in-person conversations because I have so many different conditions that it's such an incredibly long monologue (my medical file fills a whole filing cabinet!).
That said, there are some myths/assumptions that I want to dispel:
I am able-passing — that is, I don't often look sick. For the majority of the time, I do not use any mobility aids. I use a cane part-time when I am more fatigued, or a walker/rollator during flare-ups. You will rarely catch me in a wheelchair because I would be truly too sick to go out, so I'd likely be resting and working from home during those situations.
Most things I can do "normally", some things I can only do when enabled (accommodated), and a couple that I can't do at all. But there is no hard line between these three categories, so just because I can do something one day does not mean I can do it the next day.
Being disabled doesn't make me special — about 10% of the world population is disabled, making it the largest global minority group. Words like "brave" or "strong", a "hero", or extraordinary may mean well, but it again reinforces our marginalized status as "the other". Similarly, praise for doing basic everyday things can come off as infantilization instead of the intended affirmation. Scholars label this dynamic as "toxic positivity".
I may be open to talking about medical issues, but that's not true for every spoonie. In fact, it is illegal according to both the ADA and HIPAA for employers to ask anything beyond necessary accommodations. That said, if you have any casual questions for me or are unsure about something, just ask me!
I hope this has given you, dear reader, more insight into this part of my identity. This world may be designed for the abled, but I firmly believe that with clear communication and proper accommodations, I will be enabled to work properly and help you as best as possible!
What I need to be at my best:
ADA compliant facilities
Ramp & lift/elevator access
A restroom close by, preferably fitted w/ handlebars
Acid-free foods & drinks (no citrus, carbonation, caffeine, etc.)
Sanitary work surfaces & spaces
A seat for rest breaks