Actress and Model Elaina Braverman’s Story of Disability Inclusivity in the Entertainment Industry

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At age eighteen, Elaina Braverman is not just redefining what it means to be a woman of empowerment, but a woman of compassion and bravery. She is changing the identity and course of the modeling, television and film industry with every scene and stride. Elaina has been involved in huge productions, from NBC to New York Fashion Week.

She has a smile that lights up the room, and will forever remain an inspiration to me and many others. Sometimes it only takes one to make a change to the societal-norm of any structure, such as the entertainment business. Without a doubt, Elaina has and will remain one of them. Despite having to struggle with a disability; she turns it into a positive movement to demonstrate to other women that passion and character will always overthrow what the world stereotypically views as “setbacks.”

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However, Elaina’s journey didn’t start on the runway; it started in Russia. “I was born in Russia and lived in an orphanage until I was four. My Mom and Dad adopted me and brought me to live here on Long Island [New York].” Elaina suffers with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, due to her birth mother’s drinking habits during pregnancy. Currently, Russia is considered one of the countries most likely to have a child adopted who suffers from Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS). FAS is a condition that causes brain damage and growth problems due to alcohol consumed during pregnancy from nervous system problems to social and behavioral issues.

While Elaina admits she doesn’t remember Russia, she is happy to discuss how much she loves her family and the United States. “I love my life in America and don’t want to return to Russia. I love my family, especially my Mom and Dad. They are great and very supportive of me in my acting and modeling career.”

We transitioned into how she got into the acting and modeling career. “I got involved in acting and modeling after getting stage experience during beauty pageants. I won a few pageants and then started doing acting and modeling, which I enjoy a lot.”

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Her current big opportunity is a role in the upcoming independent film, Damaged Disciples. We continue to talk about other past roles Elaina has been a part of in production. “I was in a scene with Tina Fey for Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. She was really nice and taught me how to be funny in the scene.” Elaina also appeared in Bad Education with Hugh Jackman. “Hugh Jackman starred in the movie. He was so nice to me on set. I also acted with him in The Greatest Showman, playing an 1800’s kid.”

Elaina’s modeling career also reaches different platforms, including being a model for Triple Stitch Diva and Les Toute Petites. She will be appearing in New York Fashion Week again this year in September for Janay Deann Designs.

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She has a drive unparalleled to many, having been involved with the world of commercials and other parts of television as well; from Samsung to NBC’s Manifest and Law and Order: Special Victims Unit — even a background role in Marvel’s Spiderman Homecoming (my nerd heart will be forever envious).

Elaina’s advice? “Don’t give up on your dreams no matter what and believe in yourself!” Simply stated but with a depth that the world needs to hear. Thank you, Elaina, my heart resonates with you; I can’t wait to see what you do next!

You can follow Elaina Braverman and her work on Instagram @bravermanelaina.

B. Elaina, personal communication, February 24th, 2019.

Written, Interviewed and Selected Photography by Sarah McKinnon.

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References:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orphans_in_Russia

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/fetal-alcohol-syndrome/symptoms-causes/syc-20352901