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A photo featuring a public speaker and actress cosplaying as a Jedi from Star Wars is going viral, and even Luke Skywalker has taken notice.
Angel Giuffria, a "Bionic Actress," shared a Thursday photo of herself cosplaying as Jedi Leia, complete with a lightsaber attachment for her bionic arm. The photo gained widespread attention online, including from actor Mark Hamill, who played Luke Skywalker in the film franchise.
"Look no further than inspirational #BionicActress [Giuffria] for the next generation of [Star Wars] heroes," Hamill tweeted. "Clearly you believe in yourself. Now all you've got to do is work hard, never give up & ANYTHING'S possible! (The Force is obviously with you...)"
"I can’t say I wasn’t hoping he’d notice me when I tagged him in the post but when he actually did, I had to let it sink in," Giuffria tells Yahoo Lifestyle. "I found myself ‘happy crying’ in my hotel room at him being such a kind and supportive role model."
Giuffria was born without her left arm below the elbow and has worn a prosthetic hand her entire life. And she has always wanted to cosplay as Jedi Leia, integrating a lightsaber arm.
"Coincidently [Trace] had the same idea but really wanted to do a Sith Starkiller cosplay," Giuffria said. "He was able to design and 3D-print an adapter that allowed us to attach the sabers to our existing bionic arm frames."
This is not Giuffria's first brush with viral fame. In 2017, a photo of her squad, including Trace, Ashley Sherman, and Jason Barns, at Dragoncon went viral. Five years ago, she was on the front page of Reddit performing archery while testing out a bionic arm for the U.S. government. She's hopeful that all the positive attention will encourage the media to be more inclusive.
"Our world is filled with differences and the media is doing a disservice to everyone by not accurately representing our diverse and beautiful world," Giuffria tells Yahoo Lifestyle. "I love acting and I will fight for being 'just an actress,' but I am also an actress with a disability, and I think that’s so cool and wonderful.”
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She adds, “I hope to possibly help anyone with differences to feel represented and tell stories that people haven’t yet been able to see!"
Giuffria, who was recently nominated for Best Awareness Campaign in the Easterseals Disability Film Challenge, will soon play a recurring character in an upcoming television show (her character will be soon be announced). And Giuffria’s first lead role in an indie feature film, No Such Thing As Monsters, is coming out this year.
By Hope Schreiber, Yahoo Lifestyle