Geri Jewell, who starred as Blair’s cousin Geri on The Facts of Life and became the first person with a disability to have a recurring role on prime-time television, comes out as a lesbian in her upcoming memoir, I’m Walking as Straight as I Can: Transcending Disability in Hollywood and Beyond. According to the press release, the actress/comedienne, who was born with cerebral palsy, covers both her many accomplishments (a performance at the White House in 1985 and the role of abused maid Jewel on HBO’s Deadwood) and her struggles — which include tax problems, drug addiction and an accident that nearly claimed her life. The inspirational autobiography hits shelves April 1.
In 2004, Jewell told EW how she landed the role on Deadwood when the show’s creator, David Milch, spotted her at a Santa Monica pharmacy in 2002. She was getting medication for chronic pain in her neck, which she broke in 1999. ”I haven’t seen you on TV lately. Do you want to do a series?” he asked her, out of nowhere. Recalled Jewell, ”I looked at the ceiling and said, ‘God, you have a really quirky sense of humor. I’m standing here with CP and a broken neck, and David Milch wants me to ride a horse.”’