CPF: If you had just met someone hearing your name for the first time, how would you introduce yourself?
Stacy: I would say that I’m an actor, a composer, and a
voice-over artist. I would reference American Greed as a show I have
been narrating for the past 11 years.
CPF: What form of facial difference
were you born with? How many related surgeries have you had? What were
the most challenging and rewarding stages of cleft care for you?
Stacy: I was born with a cleft
lip and a partial cleft palate. I had four surgeries as a child: shortly
after birth, at six months, then at a year and a half, and finally, at
four years of age. The most challenging aspect of my young life was
dealing with kids who teased me. This actually strengthened my resolve
to succeed in sports, in academics, and as a young performer. I took
speech therapy to help reduce the nasal sound of my speech.
CPF: What has inspired you to push through challenges in your cleft
care journey? How has a team of cleft care specialists and support from
family and friends helped along the way?
Stacy: There is no better support than parents. Friends are
important as well, and doctors. My dear parents instilled the notion in
me that I was special. Yes, I was different than other kids, but in many
ways, that became a badge of honor.
CPF: Tell us a little about your career path so far. What
accomplishments are you most proud of? What do you look forward to in
I have been very fortunate in my career. I have always loved the
theatre, especially Shakespeare, and I am proud to say that I have had
the honor and privilege to play many of his major roles. I had a great
success playing King Lear, and I am looking forward to reviving that in
the not-too-distant future.
CPF: Who has been the biggest influence on your life? What lessons did that person teach you?
Stacy: My parents were my greatest influence. I also had a
professor in college, William Oliver, at the University of California,
Berkeley. He, along with my parents, gave me the confidence to pursue
my dream of becoming the best possible actor in whatever medium I chose
to pursue: film, TV, voiceovers.
CPF: How has having a cleft impacted the way you view the world?
Stacy: I am very sympathetic to families impacted by
craniofacial issues, especially with regard to dealing with kids who
tease, with speech impediments, with impaired looks. The message is
constant and clear: Use whatever talent you discover you have to offset
any negativity coming your way. Let your ‘special circumstances’ become
a motor to achieve greatness in whatever field you choose to pursue.
CPF: You’ve spent time in the public spotlight. Are you always
comfortable with your appearance? How do you handle the times when you
notice your facial difference?
Stacy: As an actor, I am forever dealing with whether or not I
want my scar to show, or do I want to hide it under a mustache? Over
the years, I have generally wanted to have the scar showing if I’m
playing tough guys or vulnerable roles, where it becomes important not
to ‘hide’. I’m just getting ready to play an Italian mobster, and I’m
definitely going to play him without a mustache… but then, I am so
giving him pale blue eyes (special contacts) and a gold tooth (special
CPF: What else would you like the cleft-craniofacial community to know?
Stacy: I would like the craniofacial community to know that
there is always a way for those of us born with defects to show another
side of our personality that diminishes the importance or the stigma of
The Cleft Palate Foundation appreciates Stacy Keach providing this special interview in honor of
National Cleft & Craniofacial Awareness Month. Thank you, Stacy! This blog was
originally posted by CPF.