Interview with Blind Actor, Antoine McCracken

I had the pleasure of speaking with Antoine McCracken, a blind actor and Ziegler Magazine reader, a few days ago.  Antoine first got in touch with me via email asking to post an encouraging message to the blind community in our Special Notices section.  His message was so good, that I asked him if he would be willing to grant me a brief interview and he kindly agreed. 

Antoine lost most of his sight at age 7.  Due to glaucoma, he experienced retinal detachment which left him entirely blind in his left eye, and left him with only very minimal vision in his right eye.  Antoine currently lives in Virginia and works as an actor.  He’s originally from Baltimore and cheers for all of their sports teams.  Being originally from the Baltimore area myself, I can commiserate with him, especially when discussing the Orioles.  But I digress. 

Antoine began his acting career in 2000 when the Maryland Society for Sight received funds from the United Way of Central Maryland.  The United Way was looking for a spokesperson and Antoine was picked to represent them.  He did various photo shoots for them, with some of his pictures making it onto billboards, and newspaper and internet promotional spots for the next year.  In June of 2000, he was asked to do a commercial, as well.  He was also asked to attend a convention in Baltimore and speak to various media outlets as a representative of The United Way.  As his experience grew, his love of talking to people and acting grew as well.

In 2001, Antoine moved to Virginia and started to work as a mentor, which was a great role for him because he truly enjoyed helping people and improving the lives of others, something he says he was put on this Earth to do.  Soon after his move, he was employed by radio station WTJZ, where he received free training to learn how to work the soundboards.  Antoine learned to operate the complex equipment so quickly that the radio station decided to hire him as a DJ.  It also didn’t hurt that he had a decent speaking voice and was an interesting person.  He enjoyed his position as a radio DJ until the station was closed down in 2007. 

After his radio days had ended, Antoine set out to continue pursuing his acting career.  He auditioned for movies as well as commercials and voice-overs.  He is now featured in a music video called “Home”, which can be seen and heard at www.graceandmercyrecords.com.  He also has a youtube page where all of his commercials can be seen and listened to at www.youtube.com/lamontantoine.

What really caught my attention with Antoine was his attitude.  You simply can’t keep him down, no matter what, and he wants to encourage every blind person to be the same.  He wants to see blind people gaining their independence and leading rich lives that they can be proud of.  He said, “You don’t have to stay home and not live your life. You can be whatever you want to be. Your mind isn’t disabled.  Don’t let anyone tell you “you can’t be that!”  Surround yourself with people who will encourage you to do better.  Take your challenges in stride and learn to work around them. Don’t allow them to defeat you.”  He also says to the parents of blind children, “It’s important for parents to let their blind children go out and try things, don’t be afraid to let them explore the world.”  He credits his mother for giving him these values.  She raised him and his siblings and always made sure they were taken care of, despite the challenges that met her.  Now, Antoine looks at life and its multitudinous number of challenges and says he will live it to its full potential, no matter what.

Antoine and I finished our conversation with him saying, “A lot of people think that blind people can only be piano tuners.  I’m not saying that it’s a bad job, and if you want to be a piano tuner, then go be the best piano tuner you can be.  But don’t ever let anyone pigeon hole you just because you’re blind.  You may be blind, but you’ve got a mind, and you’ve got potential.  That’s all you need to be something great.”

I had a great conversation with Antoine and I think that he has a great message to give to the blind community.  He has told me that if anyone would like to get in touch with him to talk, that’d I’m free to give out his email address.  Due to privacy concerns over the internet, I will not post his email address here, but please email me at blind@verizon.net if you’d like his contact information.


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