Why Michael J. Fox Is Calling His Parkinson’s Diagnosis a ‘Gift’

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Michael J. Fox at The National Board of Review Awards Gala held at Cipriani 42nd St on January 11, 2024 in New York, New York. (Photo by Kristina Bumphrey/Variety via Getty Images)

After spending the last three decades with Parkinson’s disease, Michael J. Fox says his health battle has actually “been a gift.”

Fox, 62, spoke of his relationship to the disease while attending the National Board of Review’s (NBR) annual awards gala on January 11. He was one of this year’s award recipients, taking home the Best Documentary award for his 2023 film Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie. The AppleTV+ documentary was directed by Davis Guggenheim and covers Fox’s life story from his years as a young actor to the ways Parkinson’s impacts him now.

The NBR shared a photo on Instagram showing Fox addressing the gala crowd while standing beside Guggenheim, with the caption stating that the two received the award “for their raw and emotional portrait” of Fox’s “incredible career and his struggle with Parkinson's.”

Fox told the NBR audience that Parkinson’s is “a gift that keeps on taking,” according to People. The Back to the Future actor clarified that the disease has been a “gift” because it has provided him “an audience to talk about what’s possible,” most recently through his documentary.

Related: ‘Live and Try’: 24 Inspirational Quotes From Michael J. Fox

Fox praised Guggenheim for his work on the film, saying that documentaries are often thought of “as journalism” but that they can also be “cinema.”

“And he’s a master,” Fox said of the director, adding moments later that Guggenheim has “amazing talent.”

Fox’s life and career have been significantly impacted by his 1991 diagnosis, which he announced publicly in 1998. Fox was open about his struggles with the disease in the years that followed, and he has supported Parkinson’s research through the Michael J. Fox Foundation that he launched in 2000.

In addition to snagging the NBR award, Still recently won four Creative Arts Emmy Awards. When Fox received word of the film’s Emmy nominations last year, he thanked everyone who contributed to the film and said he was “lucky” to have “the benefit of all of your skills to tell my story."

Next: ‘Lucky’ Michael J. Fox Reacts to His Documentary’s Recent Honor