As long as Angel Giuffria can remember, she’s been interested in performing. From youth theater to convincing her parents to enroll her in an expensive acting school that ended up being too far from their home, she always wanted to play pretend. Angel was also born missing her left forearm. This is also referred to as a congenital amputee.
Angel is the youngest on record for wearing a myoelectric hand, 4 months 10 days old. This type of hand has limited functions and look options. Giuffria recalls thinking at a young age that her arm, or lack of, was going to be a problem in acting. Around 18 years old, Giuffria started modeling with some local photographers. As enjoyable as it was, she knew she missed acting. Giuffria is from Louisiana which is part of the booming Hollywood South due to tax incentives. While Giuffria worked towards her undergraduate degree in psychology, she worked as a background extra whenever she could. At the time, she thought of it as just a hobby.
Giuffria wore her cosmetic passive hand while doing extra work. This type of hand looks real but has no function. “I wore the cosmetic because I assumed that they wouldn’t want someone sticking out in the background with a prosthesis.” One day, while working on the Green Lantern (2011) in New Orleans, Giuffria was chosen on set for her first featured background role. The director picked her out of 60 girls. “I was so excited I didn’t know what to do.” After the initial excitement wore off and the hair and makeup team were working on her, she made the realization that the director probably didn’t notice that she has one arm. After giving an anxiety filled briefing to the director, Martin Campbell (Casino Royale, 2006; GoldenEye, 1995) on the situation, he became the first one to believe in Giuffria. He made the point that she’s done what she’s doing in the scene many times before, so amputee or not, she was qualified. He was the first to make Giuffria realize “Yeah, I’m an amputee and that’s real life – which means I can still play these parts. I can play the college student, the girlfriend, the daughter etc. because I am those things!”
After graduating with her undergraduate degree, Giuffria landed her first talent agent. It had taken Giuffria some time to get comfortable in the acting world. For over a year, she only wore her cosmetic arm and played roles of two-handed people but after seeing the new Bebionic hand, she insisted on having it! “The hand had so much more function and looked COOL…” so Giuffria was confident with it on. Within the month, Giuffria booked her first principal speaking role on a film. She was able to act with John Lithgow in a scene in the new Ben Affleck movie,.
In July 2015, she booked a principle role in an indie film called Speech and Debate wearing her bionic arm. Giuffria’s industry goal is for it to okay to be herself in an audition or in a film. For her that means being able to go in wearing any prosthetic arm she chooses (or no arm at all) for a role that’s listed as 20 something brunette female and have her prosthesis/or lack of not effect their decision. She states “Because I am a twenty-something brunette female – and an amputee. We exist. We should be represented in TV and film.” With the recent discussions on diversity, hopefully we will start seeing this concept become common place.