DISABILITIES are not always obvious. In fact you could know of someone through their work and/or admire their talents without ever having a clue about what they have to do in order to achieve the things a lot of us take for granted.
Award-winning singer Grace Hickey is one young lady who is well known in the Clarence for her musical abilities.
The former Maclean High student now musician in training has garnered quite a following on the local circuit. But beneath the effervescent exterior we see on stage is a young woman who needs to show extraordinary discipline in order to chase her dreams as a professional entertainer.
The 20-year-old has cerebral palsy, which she manages as much as possible via a gruelling daily exercise regime.
Grace's inspirational story will be the subject of an upcoming film in which the singer will not only be appearing in front of camera but also behind the scenes.
Grace Under Fire is the brainchild of Clarence Valley photographer and film-maker Debrah Novak who will telling the story of the Maclean-raised singer- songwriter while Grace serves as co-producer as well as composing and performing the music credits for the film.
To assist with the production of this special film Screenworks chose Debrah's proposal as one of the eight recipients of a $5000 grant as part of the Createablity 2017 project.
Debrah said she was inspired by Grace's strength and determination to follow her calling.
"Grace doesn't let her disability define her. She's had a very supportive family who raised her to recognise that there are people much worse off so to her it's a real non-event.
"She exercises for hours everyday to retain her flexibility and mobility and if she doesn't she wouldn't be able to do what's she is doing. She's very diligent about it."
Debrah said this kind of discipline has taught Grace to be a high achiever and recognise that quality as something she can use to not only to get through life but also achieve her goals.
"She has to push the bar much higher to prove her abilities and capabilities. She comes from a musical family and her drive and attitude at such a young age is what interested me.
"We will be filming her at home, her music, and explore what inspires her to write and perform. It will be a real insight into her life and about not wanting to be put in a box."
Debrah said Grace, who recently took home the Dolphin (North Coast Music Award) for Best Female Vocalist, had not done anything in the visual world (made a music video clip) so this would enable her to have a major input into any future projects.
"Rather than being told what to do by a music producer she can say what she wants or create her own. It will be empowering for her career-wise. The Creatability project is really extraordinary platform for Grace to received global exposure."
Grace, who is currently living on campus in Brisbane and studying a fine arts degree, said the experience had been a great one on many levels.
"I've always lived with cerebral palsy and never let it impact my quality of life or let it define me so the film will be a way to let people know about my disability.
"It's also interesting for me too because I don't think about it much because I've never known anything different so it's been a real introspective experience as well."
Grace said she also liked the fact that it really focused strongly on her music "which provides a counterpoint to the story of my disability.
"Debrah has made a point of involving me in every step of the production. It's been pretty interesting seeing how music and film intersect."
Grace said it would be lovely if other people living with disabilities were inspired by her story but she said she was just telling her story.
"There are all different levels of disability but if people could take some- thing away from the film that would be wonderful."