Taro Alexander (TA)
TA: I, uh, I’ve s-s-stuttered since I was 5 years old. But I didn’t know anyone else who stuttered ’till I was in my mid-twenties. And, uh, I just felt alone and, like, tried to hide it and was pretty successful at kind of fooling people. There are a lot of tricks that you can use where you can avoid certain sounds or certain words that give you problems. You know, you can speak in an accent or try yawning or it’s — the — the easiest one obviously is to not talk.
Wh-When I was in high school I went to a high school for the performing arts and onstage I was mostly fluent which actually can be a pretty common thing for actors who s-st-stutter. So that was great for my confidence. But when I was about 26 I was doing a play in Denver, Colorado and, uh, at the very end of the play I had this monologue and I had a block on a line — which up to that point in my professional career I’d never really stuttered onstage. It was probably, like, a one second block, which can sound like a pause. So if you didn’t know that I stuttered, you probably would have no idea that that happened. But for me it wasn’t a choice and it freaked me out and, uh, after the show I thought I was going to be fired by the stage manager and I got to that line the second night and I stuttered again. I was a little bit worse.
I needed to talk to somebody about it but I didn’t know, I mean, wh-wh-who am I going to talk to? I don’t talk about this with anybody. So there was this guy named Carl who was the other actor i-in-in the scene with me. I went down to his apartment and, um, I said, ’This is going to be really strange. I know we don’t know each other well but, uh, I have something I want to tell you. I am a person who st–tutters.’
And he says, ’Oh really? S-so-s-so am I.’
And I was like, ’Mmm, what? No you’re not! I-I-I don’t ever hear you stutter. What’re you talking about?’
And he’s like, ’Well, I don’t ever hear you stutter. So…’
And and and I-I-I was like, ’Really? Like…’
And he was like, ’Yeah. As a kid I had a really bad stutter and I worked really hard on it and most of the times I don’t stutter but every now and then I will.’
And that really was the beginning of — Wow, you know, there are a lot of — there are a lot of us out there, which just kind of chilled me out about it. I think a-a-a lot of people who stutter — including myself — go through such a hard time in their life with it. But who would I be if I didn’t stutter? I would be a completely different person.