Gerald Isaac Waters talks resilience, realness and pumpkin spice

Photo by Kelly Balch

Gerald Isaac Waters is a treat to talk to! Before we got to the good stuff, Gerald and I talked about our love of coffee, he’s a caramel fan, I’m a hazelnut fan, and now that it’s fall- It’s pumpkin spice time! Fall is decidedly the best season and Gerald can back me up on that! 

After two cups of coffee, we dove into talking about his new Netflix film All Together Now

“What drew me to Chad is that, yes Chad has a disability and yes Chad is in a wheelchair, but the story had nothing to do with his disability. He is just another character in this book. It’s based on a book by Matthew Quick ‘Sorta Like a Rock Star,’ and it had nothing to do with his disability, he was just another character and a support system for Amber (Auli’i Cravalho). He’s just a regular person. It’s awesome to bring all the realness to the fact that it doesn’t have to be completely centered around his disability, he can just be a regular character, through and through. So first initially that’s what drew me to it… I did my audition and I got the callback and I immediately called my agent and was like, ‘I need this script. I love what it stands for… I have to be a part of this, this is everything I stand for.’ Hope, love, it’s a great and beautiful message.”

All Together Now is very much a story about resilience. In 2015, Gerald fell 13 feet off of his balcony. His injuries left him paralyzed from the neck down. But he didn’t let that stop him.

Photo by Kelly Balch

“I got introduced to water therapy and I was immediately taken over with that. Even just being in a pool and being able to kind of splash around a bit. I was like ‘this is the therapy for me.’ And so I quickly started to see a lot of results from that. I started gaining a lot of upper body movement and a lot of movement back into my hands and I started getting sensation back in my legs, which today I have full sensation in my legs. I can feel hot and cold temperatures, which is a godsend. And I’m getting a lot more hand strength back, which I’m very, very thankful.”

“I knew that I wanted to be back here in LA, and so I came up with a list for my therapist and was like, ‘how do I become as independent as possible?’ And so she was like ‘well we need to get you dressing yourself and being able to transfer in and out of the shower’ so we made a list and really hit it hard for like 9 to 10 months maybe. And then I came back to her and I was like, ‘boom, list is done, I’m making the move’… It’s given me more drive. It kind of kept me more humble and just really hungry to do the things that I want to do. So in a sense, I guess I would say it’s given me more of a purpose.”

Gerald says he is happy that productions are being authentically inclusive and he’s grateful to be able to be that representation for others. 

“I think it’s more important now than ever because it’s giving people a chance to see real people, like themselves on screen or on stage. I don’t think I was personally ready for all of the outreach but I love it and it’s so great just to hear people like ‘you made my day.’ And then they go onto my Instagram and they kind of really start seeing like before my accident, during my accident, after my accident, the whole storyline and so they’re like, ‘you just give me so much hope and, and thank you’ and I’m just like, ‘Oh, you’re welcome.’ I’m just trying to figure out life as well but I’m glad I gave them a little bit of hope and sunshine at the end of the day. I think it’s really important and I’m just really glad to be a small part of that whole movement of really coming into our own of inclusion and just realness.”

In addition to the authenticity of the film, Gerald loved “kicking it” with Fred Armisen as well as that open ending.

Photo by Kelly Balch

“I personally love it because I love the movies that you kind of get to really fantasize about what happens next in your own mind. So you kind of get to build that whole story you’re like, ‘oh, what if she does get in,’ and then what does that look like for her life and then how does that affect everyone else, or you go the opposite way. And then it opens up a discussion. Do we get to inevitably be able to pick up and see what happens with them in a sequel? Maybe? So I love those types of situations because it leaves you guessing but at the same time you kind of get to build your own fantasy.”

Gerald’s next project is the stageplay The Cost of Living in Seattle. This was originally planned for this past summer but because COVID-19 took over, it’s been pushed back. Gerald says The Cost of Living is similar to All Together Now.

“This is another one of those moments where you get to walk into these characters’ lives and really see them have these walls that are built up and these people are trying to chip away at those walls and try to really bring them down to allow in love and acceptance, and all of these other emotions in  and it be okay, so that’s that was, it’s another kind of realm of being able to not only ask for help, but also receive help as well. So I also loved it.

All Together Now is currently streaming on Netflix and The Cost of Living is TBD. Stay tuned for it!