A wheelchair-using wrestler and star of a national television ad campaign is helping to lead the fight against prejudice in schools and the acting industry.
Dan Edge has enjoyed a varied career since graduating from the University of Northampton’s Drama degree in 2008, with parts on stage and screen, modelling shoots, an appearance in the 2012 Paralympic Games opening ceremony – while also enjoying a dual role as a wrestling promoter and professional fighter.
Sky Sports viewers might also recognise him as the star of an advert for bookmakers Paddy Power, which was on heavy rotation over a six-month period in 2017 – watch it below.
Dan, who also happens to have cerebral palsy, also finds time to fight for the rights of acting union Equity’s deaf and disabled members – and has just secured a role with charity Scope, which sees him visit schools to bust the myths surrounding disability.
While his drive, determination and talent has given him an enviable spread of work, Dan is keen to talk up the importance of the University in helping to set him on his amazing career path.
“The course helped me massively as soon as I graduated, and still does today,” said Dan. “I speaking to lots of actors who went to stage schools rather than a university, and they all received excellent acting tuition, but not one thing about the business side of the industry.
“At Northampton, there’s also a big emphasis on developing business skills, including how to make your applications stand out, accounting, promotion, and so on. Acting itself is only one part of being an actor, there’s so much more to it, and the course prepared me fully for this career, making me a much more well-rounded graduate, compared to many who went to stage schools.”
Dan’s career took off almost immediately after graduating – which is perhaps the only thing his University tutors got wrong.
He said: “It was drummed into us that you should never expect to get the first job that you go for, but lo and behold, I actually did get it.
“I’d say I’ve been very fortunate over the years, employment-wise. Acting can be very hit and miss, with long periods of waiting for that next job. But I managed to pick up an agent very quickly after leaving uni, and they found a role for disabled performers and I got it. It might have only been a corporate video, but it was good fun and gave me great experience.”
Dan feels having a disability has helped him to land some roles, but is quick to point out it can hold him back for others.
“It’s a Catch 22 situation,” he said. “To an extent, being disabled opens up opportunities that others wouldn’t be considered for, but by the same token, I also don’t get considered for roles because I use a wheelchair.
“This is something that I am working with Equity on, to try and change the way the industry works. As a member of its Deaf & Disabled Members Committee, I am the first port of call for actors who have experienced prejudice, I help run campaigns to raise awareness of the issues, lobby politicians and try to hold producers and theatres to task. Things have changed for the better, for disabled people in the industry, over the past 10 years. For example, there are more disabled people in soap operas in the UK than ever before
“But change has been slow and there is still a long way to go, both for actors and those working off-camera and backstage.”
With so much already under his belt, Dan is now focusing on the next step up in his career.
He said: “I want to keep acting and it would be nice to break into TV, films and comedy, properly. I still love theatre too and I just need to keep raising my profile and hopefully things will continue to happen for me.
“I couldn’t do any of this without the support of my family, whom I am very fortunate to have – and of course, I’ll always remember what the University of Northampton did for me.”