Friday, July 20, 2012
Q&A With An Expert: Meet Kurt Yaeger!
Kurt Yaeger is one of the most inspirational guys I've ever had the pleasure to meet. Some of you out there may remember him from his role as Tim in Dophin Tale. This guy has done it all: actor, model, professional athlete, director, businessman and advocate of those who are differently-abled. He's never let anything stop him from becoming what he's meant to be, which is why I knew we had to have him join us here on 'The Gift'.
A friend of mine first 'introduced' me to Kurt last year, thinking he could be a tremendous inspiration to many of our readers. And after researching his many accomplishments, and chatting with him, there was no question. I truly hope you enjoy our chat as much as I did. Kurt is the real deal and I am so grateful for the chance to get to know him.
CHYNNA: Welcome to ‘The Gift’, Kurt. I am so thrilled to finally have you join us on here. Let’s start with you telling us a bit about your background.
KURT: Well, I'm an actor and professional athlete. I've been acting on and off for quite some time and have been riding stunt BMX bikes since I was eight years old. I'm currently filming a recurring role on the FX series "Sons of Anarchy" as Greg "the Peg".
CHYNNA: Yes, I’ve been following all of your work. You are quite accomplished and I am so impressed with the passion you bring to everything you do. I’m curious…who were your earlier influences and why?
KURT: My athletic influences were all of my friends who I rode BMX with. Cameron, Damien, Chris B., Nyquist, Kai, Oscar, just awesome guys who pushed the limits. They helped shaped who I am and have been there for me through thick and thin. My family has also been very supportive of me, even in the darkest of times. Without them and their help I would be nothing.
CHYNNA: That’s amazing that you have had such a strong support network around you. That makes life a little easier to get through. As you touched on already, you are quite the BMX racer. Tell us about that.
CHYNNA: I would never have said BMX racing was easy. My son loves to watch it and, as a mum, my palms sweat just thinking about my little guy doing that one day. I love the unwritten rule you brought up because I use the same premise with my ‘sensational’ kids: Keep trying until you ‘get it’ as best as you can. Great advice. You had a life-changing experience early in your life. Can you tell us about this? Did it change how you viewed the world or your vision for your future?
KURT: I was in a motorcycle accident that took my leg, broke my pelvis, fractured my spine, ripped my bladder in half and much more which left me in a hospital for more than three months. It took many surgeries to fix all the problems and several more after before I began the recovery process.
I don’t think it changed my worldview, mainly because I’m one who ponders. I contemplate far too much far too often. So the main tenants of what I believed were reinforced by the accident.
CHYNNA: I can only imagine the strength, courage and perseverance it took to get through such an awful ordeal. And I loved how you said that the main tenants of what you believe were reinforced by that experience. That says so much about you. A lot of people wouldn’t be able to get past it or figure out how to grow from it. So you are amazing for being able to do just that. Can you tell us what the therapeutic process was like for you?
KURT: It sucked. Waiting for almost a year for your body to heal while lying in a bed can screw with you brain. I almost took my life, but just couldn’t go through with it because too many people poured out their hearts for me. I couldn’t piss on that effort.
I had to prove their efforts were worth their time by trying to succeed at everything I do. For instance, my Aunt Jackie brought me food all the time in both the hospital and at home. What was I supposed to do with that? Just say, “Thanks for all your hard work and love, but I think I’m gonna check out”? Naw, that would just be too damn selfish.
CHYNNA: What a powerful message. Good for you. And I so appreciate your raw honesty. I can completely appreciate how you can get into that frame of mind of giving up when things are that tough. But instead of doing that, you used it as a force to move you forward. Amazing. What is the top thing you’d like young people to tell themselves who may be going through the initial stages of what you’ve gone through?
KURT: It will get better.
CHYNNA: Absolutely. You were a part of an amazing movie, among your other projects, called, ‘Dolphin Tale’. How close is the storyline to what you’ve gone through? What do you hope people take away from them when leaving the theatre?
CHYNNA: Aw…you made me tear up. Fantastic advice. Kurt, I’d really like to know what you want society to understand about ‘differently-abled’ people.
KURT: I don’t really know what to say to “them”. Maybe…I’m just as good as you are, if not better, so don’t judge me before you get to know me.
CHYNNA: That’s awesome, and pretty close to what I say to my kids all the time. Please tell us where we can learn more about you and your work.
KURT: The place I update most of my work is on my fan page at www.facebook.com/KurtYaegerFanpage. I post pictures of my new role on Sons Of Anarchy and of events that I’m involved in. Here’s a great recent article about it.
CHYNNA: That’s great. I encourage all of our readers to go over and check out your page. There is some great information and links to other places to check out Kurt’s work. Kurt, we’re almost at the end but I wanted to ask you just one more question. Here on ‘The Gift’ one of my ‘famous’ questions is to ask about a guest’s pearls of wisdom. I’d truly love to hear what yours are.
KURT: You learn more from failure than you do from success, so go out and find things to fail at, learn from them and try again. Chances are you’ll get it right soon enough. However, if you never try in the first place you’ve failed and have gained nothing.
CHYNNA: Those are some very powerful pearls. I am so glad that Kurt had the time to join us here for a little while with all that he’s got going on. Thank you so much for your generosity, honesty and positive perspective. I am greatly inspired by you and your work and know that you are welcome to come back here any time.