Charlotte actress Abby Corrigan discovers a new equality with her twin sister who has Down Syndrome

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“At the beginning, the word ‘equal’ didn’t even exist, because it was FELT. ‘Equality’ is a word that is being pushed around too much now and you must go back to the core of where we came from.” – Abby Corrigan

At 19 years old, Charlotte actress Abby Corrigan has already had an enviable career, with roles in stage productions, television shows and feature films. She grew up in Charlotte’s creative community, attending Northwest School of the Arts and taking classes at the Children’s Theater of Charlotte.

Corrigan currently has a lead role in the acclaimed national touring production of “Fun Home,” a Tony Award-winning musical based on an autobiographical graphic novel by Alison Bechdel.

After wrapping up a week-long set of performances in Charlotte at the Knight Theater, Corrigan spoke to a packed house at the July 7 CreativeMornings/Charlotte meeting on the topic of “Equality.”

By every measure, Corrigan has proven herself to be an actress whose talent allows her to stand above the crowd. Her abilities and commitment to her craft have taken her far in 19 years and looks to take her much further still.

But, as she shared in her talk, Corrigan’s greatest journey has been her continued relationship with her twin sister, Emma, who she says has been her best acting teacher.

The sisters share a love of theater, self-expression and playfulness. However, as they grew up, Corrigan struggled with their growing differences. Emma is a person with Down Syndrome.

Eventually, Corrigan’s genuine concern for her twin competed with her complicated feelings about it all, and this fed her developing anxiety. She began focusing on how they were dissimilar and not what they shared, and she says she grappled with how her parents had to treat them differently.

Corrigan began to notice everyone is using the term ‘twin’ which means ‘same’ and nothing makes sense because you aren’t the same anymore.”

With time, Corrigan says her relationship with Emma has matured, along with her own views on the world. She has learned to see Emma’s strengths and return to the creativity, love of performance and play they shared in younger years. While the differences remain, she focuses now on the ways in which they are equal — a lesson Corrigan sees as applicable with anyone she meets.

“I think people are able to connect with Emma because of her ability to recognize art,” said Corrigan. “If nothing else, creativity was a bridge between Emma and I even when it was hard because we both shared that passion. Art is so important because it gives Emma and so many others a filter to say what they cannot, with dance and paint and song.”

Did you miss the talk? Here are two ways to experience it and a post-event discussion:

Watch a video of the morning’s event courtesy of Charlotte Star Room.

– Listen to the Charlotte Is Creative podcast, featuring complete audio of a post-event conversation with Corrigan:

More creativity coming next month: Explore the global topic of “Genius” with Mark Williams.

Mark your calendar for the next meeting of CreativeMornings/Charlotte at 8:30 a.m. Friday, Aug. 4. Charlottean Mark Williams, founder of the Shakespeare in a Chair project, will speak on “Genius,” a topic shared with 170+ other CreativeMornings chapters around the world.

As always, the morning will include free coffee and scrumptious breakfast foods along with live music, games and creative inspiration. More information is available here.

Tickets for this event will be free and can be claimed online at 9 a.m. sharp Monday, July 31 at www.CharlotteIsCreative.com. Mark your calendar and set your alarm, as tickets always go quickly!

Photos: Heather Liebler

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