Adam Pearson was diagnosed with neurofibromatosis at age five. Tumors grew on his face, drastically altering his appearance and leading to his classmates treating him like he wasn’t human. His life was destined to be very different to the norm, but Adam resolved to never let those who treated him poorly win.
Today, Pearson has become a role model for many, acting in films, appearing on television, and doing his best to erase the stigma of his condition.
His story is truly inspiring – and is worth sharing with all of your friends and family.
It’s easy to complain about small things in our everyday lives. Maybe your morning coffee was a bit cold, the bus was running late, or that television show you watched last night wasn’t as good as you had hoped it would be.
Sure, it’s okay to complain about things – we all, after all, live different lives. However, at the same time, it’s essential that once in a while, we stop for a second to appreciate what we have, even though we might not be living in the most ideal circumstances.
The incredible story of Adam Pearson
From now on, whenever I feel like I don’t have the energy to complete a small task – doing the dishes, for example – or simply feel like being negative about the little troubles in life, I will always think of the likes of Adam Pearson. The British man was diagnosed with neurofibromatosis when he was five after knocking his head on a windowsill. Unfortunately, that bump never went away – and the condition caused tumors to grow on his face.
Pearson has lived an extraordinary life ever since, having to endure despicable treatment from classmates and other members of his community. He was even called “Elephant Man” and “Scarface.”
Despite that, Adam never let that stop him from pursuing his dreams. Today, he’s doing his utmost to raise awareness about his condition – and has even become a movie star, appearing alongside the likes of Scarlett Johansson.
What he thought was going to be a life reserved to being outsider, Pearson turned transformed into something entirely different.
What what he does today is nothing short of outstanding, and we’d love for you to share this article and spread his important message.
Adam Pearson’s life began just like any other baby’s. Born on January 6, 1985, in London, his first years in Croydon, South London were relatively normal.
Adam Pearson’s diagnos – what is neurofibromatosis?
But when he was five years old, everything changed. Adam knocked his head on a windowsill, but the resulting bump on his face never went away. He was soon diagnosed with neurofibromatosis, a genetic disorder that causes tumors to form on nerve tissue. In Pearson’s case, the tumors – which are non-cancerous – all grew on his face.
The same condition also impacted Adam’s twin brother, Neil, though his symptoms aren’t nearly so visible as Adam’s.
“He looks normal,” Pearson told The Guardian in 2014. “But he’s got terrible short-term memory.”
As one can imagine, growing up with tumors all over his face wasn’t an easy thing for young Adam. Because of his diagnosis, he had to learn the oft-cruel ways of the world fast, but things took a whole new turn for the worse when he started school. The treatment from his classmates was horrendous: they called him all sorts of names, degrading him to the point where he thought of himself as an outsider. Sadly, no one knew what was to be done about it.
Speaking with The Guardian, Pearson recalled one particular incident when one of his so-called friends told him that a teacher wanted to see him in a classroom. When he arrived there, however, there was no teacher waiting for him, but a group of other children.
“I went home with spit all over my blazer,” he explained. “That was horrific.”
In an interview with The Mirror, Pearson further recalled his school days.
“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 – the classic Elephant Man, freak.”
“It’s about the life you have, not the one you don’t”
Many children would probably have given up at that point, giving in to the bullies and letting them win. But Adam Pearson was not a normal child. Though he knew his life would be difficult, he was determined to make it through. Nothing could stop him – and he would never let bullies have the final say.
According to Pearson, those sorts of procedures make their “profits from people’s insecurities.
“It’s always used very lazily,” he said.
“In an ideal world, actors with conditions would play the characters with these same conditions, but that’s a way off. Instead, film-makers tend to get a generic, ‘normal’ actor and use prosthetics. If they’d got Adam Sandler and blacked him up to play Nelson Mandela, there would have been an uproar … but with scars and stuff, it seems like people are cool with that.”
“Once I started thinking like them, the bullies had won. It’s about the life you have, not the one you don’t. It wasn’t an emotionally productive thing to do,” Pearson explained.
“For me, it’s all I’ve ever known. It’s very much a part of me. It would have been like asking: ‘Why am I this tall?’”
Adam underwent regular treatment in hospital – throughout his life, he has undergone around 30 medical procedures to “debunk” some of the tumors. But while he’s no stranger to the surgeon’s knife, he’s also very skeptical about the trend regarding cosmetic surgery.
“I read somewhere nine out of 10 women don’t like how they look and I think that’s because they’re comparing themselves to the airbrushed images they see in Vogue or FHM. People lack a real literacy in the media. They don’t know what goes into producing these images. Media literacy should be part of education. I think we’ve done beauty a great disservice by quantifying it,” he explained.
Adam Pearson – acting career
During one of his regular visits to Great Ormond Street Hospital, a children’s hospital in London, Adam saw a poster about the organization Changing Faces. According to their website, they are “UK’s leading charity for everyone with a scar, mark or condition on their face or body.” Pearson instantly knew he wanted to get involved.
Without telling his parents, Adam contacted the organization and got help with how to stay positive. One thing they taught him was to remember that the one’s treating him poorly “are the ones with the problem, not you.”
He studied business management at Brighton University, and upon graduating landed work in several television productions for Channel 4 and the BBC. Among these were appearances on the show The Undateables, as well as Beauty and the Beast, both of which deal with how society views disabilities in all forms.
In 2011, Adam Pearson’s life would take another drastic turn. Changing Faces contacted him, saying that producers were looking for a male character for the film Under the Skin.
Under the Skin, a science fiction film directed by Jonathan Glazer, became a huge success. Pearson starred alongside the Hollywood star Scarlett Johansson, and for him, it was a way of showing the world that anyone can achieve their dreams, no matter their appearance.
“One of the main reasons for taking the role was because it was so moving and honest,” Adam said.
“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 wants to break the stigma
He turned out to be a natural in front of the screen. According to Pearson, plenty of the dialog was improvised, and working with Johansson was something exceptional. He received her private email address in the end – and in the film, they even had to film a nude scene together.
“They just said ‘action’ and you do it,” he said. “I didn’t really think about it, I didn’t broadcast the information [that he was in the film] until quite near the release. I didn’t tell some people at all and just took them to see the film, I mean, my friend Heidi hasn’t made eye contact with me for a week.”
“[Scarlett Johansson was] brilliant. She’s really nice, charming, funny and intelligent once you get over the feeling of ‘Oh my God, this is Scarlett Johansson!’”
For Adam, becoming an actor wasn’t just about inspiring other people to chase their dreams and strive not to let anything get in their way. More importantly, it allowed him to challenge the stigma regarding showing disabilities on-screen on a global stage.
He explained: “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.”
One of the UK’s most influential disabled people
Since the success of Under the Skin in 2013, Adam has continued to work as an actor and disability rights activist. In 2017, he starred as himself in the feature film DRIB and in 2019 appeared in Chained for Life. Adam also featured in the movie A Different Man, starring Sebastian Stan, and has been described as “an actor of great charm” by The New York Times.
As mentioned, Adam is keen on breaking down the stigma surrounding his disability. He has spoken at many events, such as the World Health Innovation Summit, and given multiple TED talks. Moreover, he is an ambassador for The Prince’s Trust, Changing Faces, and Us In A Bus, winning both a RADAR Award and a Diana Award for his work.
In 2022, he was included on the top 100 list of the UK’s most influential disabled people.
Recently,m Pearson was a contestant on Celebrity Masterchef. Unfortunately, he was the first to be eliminated from the cooking show, but that didn’t really matter in the long run. The fact that he was on Celebrity Masterchef proves something unquestionably more important; nothing can stop you from doing what you love, no matter how you look or what disabilities you may have.
“Often with minority talent, and particularly disabled talent, they get pigeonholed into only doing massive air quotes here, disability thing,” Pearson told Metro.
At the time of writing, Adam does not have a girlfriend. If he were to have children, there’s a 50% chance he will pass on his condition, but – if it wasn’t abundantly obvious by now – he’s an extremely positive soul.
He continues to do his best to make the world a better place. No matter what happens, he knows that any future children will have amazing lives even if they do suffer from the same genetic disorder as him.
“My kids will be genetically awesome anyway,” Pearson proclaimed.