Selma Blair shares her battles with MS through documentary

Rick's Reviews

Selma Blair’s battle with multiple sclerosis is the subject of a new documentary on Discovery+. (Photo courtesy of Discovery+)

Selma Blair – whose work in TV and film ranges from “Legally Blonde” to “Anger Management” – was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2018. Since learning she had the autoimmune disease, Blair has been very private when asked to talk about dealing with all of the health issues. That hasn’t stopped people from asking and they have generally been told the same thing.

 “I don’t have advice.  I just wanted to lead by example of saying this is just where I am.  I don’t know except if I slow down and have patience with myself, I do find this too shall pass, whether it’s a glitch in thinking, a movement or something else,” Blair says. “Everyone’s journey is their own so I can only speak for myself.

“But I’ve always been very calm in my diagnosis because I’ve been carrying around some sort of chronic illness, either building up or had, for a long time.  So it wasn’t a surprise to me, just the name was a surprise to me.  It never occurred to me.  So I’m learning like everyone else and I don’t know what my advice would be.”

Her approach now to dealing with all of the questions has been to tackle them head on with the new documentary “Introducing, Selma Blair” from director Rachel Fleit. The film opened in a limited number of theaters on Oct. 15 and will be available through the streaming service of Discovery+ starting Oct. 21.

Blair has invited audiences into her life as she shares her story of living with multiple sclerosis. It is a story of a woman who has fought a string battle full of laughter and tears. Blair wanted to tell her story but it wasn’t until she met with Fleit that she felt comfortable with such a deeply revealing examination.

Fleit found working with Blair to be a wonderful experience.

“She was at this incredible place in her life of true vulnerability.  And she was ready to be completely honest and real and true about what was happening,” Fleit says. “And we had an incredible experience together.  And the most remarkable part is that nothing was off limits.  She was ready at this moment in her life to just tell the truth of this experience.

“The thing that’s so remarkable about Selma’s experience is it just feels so universal.  Whether it’s MS or I have Alopecia, or if someone else has a chronic illness or disability, or just walking around in the world feeling uncomfortable in their skin, I think she really has been an inspiration to show us, first of all, it’s one day at a time.  I think honesty is extremely inspiring.  And I’m just so happy with the way it all turned out.”

The fact Blair’s story is being told in a documentary stems from the notoriety she has gained through her acting. She’s never been fully comfortable with the spotlight because all that scrutiny tends to drain her energy.

There are times she wishes she could go back home to Michigan and recover quietly. Then she will get a text from someone who tells her how her story is helping educate the world keeps her going.

“To hear that even just me showing up with a cane or willing to talk about something that might be embarrassing or oversharing to people, it was a key for a lot of people in finding comfort in themselves that I’ve heard of, and that means everything to me. So I’m thrilled that I have some platform,” Blair says. “By no means am I saying I’m speaking for all people with this condition or any condition of chronic illness or disability or anything.  I’m speaking my story, and if that helps normalize one thing to open the door for other people to be comfortable telling their stories then I’m thrilled.”

“Switched Before Birth,” 8 p.m. Oct. 23, Lifetime
The original Lifetime movie follows Olivia Crawford (Skyler Samuels) and her husband Brian (Bo Yokely), who after years of trying to have a child end up in a nightmare when they finally have twins. A medical mix-up creates a battle between two determined moms.

Elisabeth Rohm, who directed the film, points out that 15% of couples struggle with getting pregnant naturally. There are no numbers as to how often there is a problem with in vitro fertilization because it is not a federally regulated industry.

Rohm adds, “I felt very privileged to be given the opportunity to direct something about IVF because I really went through my own journey. It was painful and difficult.

“These actresses really captured what is deeply personal to me and it’s like lightning in a bottle to watch these two act in this movie.”

Rohm recently made her directorial debut with “Girl in the Basement” as part of Lifetime efforts to hire women both in front of the camera and in key production roles.

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