It’s been a long wait, but Stranger Things 2 is now (FINALLY) streaming on Netflix, and I’d be lying if I told you I haven’t watched all nine episodes at least four times already. The wildly popular Netflix original series first took the world by storm last July and hasn’t stopped making waves ever since.
One fan-favorite is youngster Gaten Matarazzo, who found fame overnight playing Dustin Henderson in the 80’s-set sci-fi drama.
But the road to stardom hasn’t always been easy for the 15-year-old, who suffers from cleidocranial dysplasia—a trait he shares with his Stranger Things character.
Cue: ALL the chocolate pudding.
The rare genetic condition primarily affects the development of his bones and teeth.
“I have a really mild case and a lot of people have it much worse than I do. I feel like putting it into the show is really raising awareness for it, and I’m lucky that mine was very mild,” Matarazzo said in an appearance on the Jonathan Ross Show in 2016.
As a result of the disease, Matarazzo was born without collar bones. His teeth are all under-developed baby teeth, so he wears dentures and anticipates several oral surgeries and procedures in the future.
In a previous radio interview with BBC Radio 5, Matarazzo said he’s been rejected from hundreds of roles, in part because of his disability. It took over two years of “no’s” for him to land his first acting role.
“It was always because of my lisp and me being shorter and having the teeth issue meant writers couldn’t write in my disability because they had already written the script,” he said. “I just wanna raise awareness for it and let people know that it’s not something that you should be afraid of showing.”
In an effort to help others who share his condition, Matarazzo helped to create a nonprofit in 2016 called CCD Smiles.
The organization’s mission is to help people “get their smiles back” by providing patients with financial resources for dental care and other procedures, while also contributing to ongoing CCD research.
Not only is he using his role on Stranger Things to spread awareness about cleidocranial dysplasia, but he’s also using his fame to bring smiles to those who may not otherwise have them.
This Stranger Things star is visiting fans who share his rare birth defect ❤️
Posted by NowThis Entertainment on Saturday, November 11, 2017