Thursday, March 14, 2019

How actress Selma Blair — and that cane — inspire others with MS

By Steve Carney, Special to the Los Angeles Times

Selma Blair arrives at the Vanity Fair Oscars party. 
 (Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images)
When actress Selma Blair strode onto the Vanity Fair red carpet on Oscar night, her most public appearance since announcing in October that she has multiple sclerosis, what drew most attention was not her couture but her cane. Not utilitarian medical supply, foam and stainless steel, but sheathed in patent leather, and embellished with a pink diamond and gold monogram — a signal, both brash and heartening, to others living with the disease.

“Kudos to her for her stepping out like that, and looking beautiful. I think she encouraged a lot of people,” said Dawnia Baynes, 39, of Compton, who was diagnosed with MS in 2006. “She helped me be like, ‘Who cares? This is what I’m dealing with.’ Now I want to trick out my walker! Bling it out! Put some spinners on it!”

Blair, who first gained a cult following with 1999’s “Cruel Intentions,” walked carefully and deliberately across the carpet, pausing and smiling for each barrage of paparazzi strobes, waving the diaphanous cape of her Ralph & Russo gown, maintaining her balance while showing off that cane. She broke down momentarily halfway along, and with the help of her friend and manager Troy Nankin, composed herself, then turned an unflinching gaze toward every lens trained on her.

“That was awesome,” said Nandi Bowe, 55, a writer and director in Silver Lake, diagnosed 13 years ago. “All of a sudden, it took a little bit of the fear away. I’m not in a club of one, or a club of 10. MS can look lots of ways. MS can look like a fabulous, beautiful actor.”