May 29, 2024

Before she was Disney’s iconic Mary Poppins or the Baker’s Wife in “Into the Woods,” actress Emily Blunt was just a little girl struggling with a stutter. Even today the actress still considers herself a stutterer. “Certain words will get stuck, the phone is a bit of a nightmare,” Blunt said on stage at Variety’s Power of Women Presented by Liftetime event. “Environments challenge me when I’m scared or put on the spot or under pressure to persuade.”

Blunt was there to accept the Wells Fargo’s Power of Women Alumni Award for dedicating her time and energy to help children overcome stuttering through educational resources at the American Institute for Stuttering.

Presented by Krista Phillips, the Head of Consumer Cards & Marketing at Wells Fargo, Phillips applauded Blunt’s continuous work with the institute, “She works with children and parents affected by stuttering – a cause that is deeply personal to her,” she said. “Her support has enabled the Institute to expand its reach, offer more resources, and conduct groundbreaking research to better understand and address stuttering, providing hope and assistance to individuals who face this challenge daily.”

Blunt started her speech by recalling her 2018 Variety Power of Women honor and acknowledging all the “amazing women with their tits out.”

“Get your tits out, it’s amazing!” Blunt said on stage with a laugh.

She continued, “I am grateful to shed light on [stuttering] because it is a disability that lives very often in the shadows alongside its friends: fear and shame and humiliation.”

Pointing out that stuttering affect about 3 million people in American and around 80 million people across the globe, the actress stressed to stop identifying a stutter as a nervous disposition or a psychological issue. “This is wrong,” Blunt said. “It is neurological, it’s biological, it’s often hereditary and it’s not your fault.”

Blunt shared how she still occasionally stutters over certain words or when speaking on the phone. “Environments challenge me if I’m scared, or if I’m under pressure to persuade or convince, like, don’t ever ask me to pitch you anything ever.”

Blunt revealed the complexities of growing up with a stutter, it never really leaves you, “A stutter is like an imposter living in your body. Who doesn’t pay rent. And completely and utterly misrepresents who you are as a person.”

The actress continued discussing her 17 years working with the Institute, calling the group family and celebrating the hundreds of children they have helped.

She then ended her speech with a frank conversation on how to be a champion for those working through speech therapy. “Next time you meet someone who stutters. Know that every word they say takes effort and courage. Look them in the eye, be patient. Don’t tell them to slow down, or breathe, or spit it out. It’s a neurological thing, it’s sort of a motor pathway thing. Don’t finish their sentences. They know what they want to say, they have so much to share. Just be patient.”

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