The moment I met Samantha Renke, I found her energy utterly infectious. She has her own wonderful and unique sense of style, wearing a brown trilby hat and some very cool lace-up boots. Our mutual friend, the brilliant actress Michelle Collins, had introduced us at a women in media group that Samantha has been part of for quite some time, and I was lucky enough to sit near Sam so I could get to know her better.
A huge campaigner for people with disabilities, an actress, writer, presenter and now handbag designer, Samantha is a busy woman! Sam was born in Germany, raised in Lancashire and despite being born with a rare genetic condition, Osteogenesis (more commonly known as Brittle Bones), her parents insisted on brining her up as “normally’ as possible.
Turning 33 in January, Sam has already achieved much. Having read French, German, European Studies and Sociology, she went on to teach languages at a secondary school, at the same time becoming a trustee for The Brittle Bone Society, a responsibility she’s now held for six years.
Sam’s dream to become an actress and intrigue for a city life eventually manifested, and she bravely took the plunge and moved to the East End of London. It paid off, and to date, she’s starred in an hilarious advert for Malteasers, and an even more hilarious role in Indie film “Little Devil”, which she deservedly won Best Actress at the Los Angeles Diversity Film Festival.
Sam is a natural comedian, but her talents don’t just end there; she writes regularly for the Huffington Post, METRO, PosAbility magazine and the Brittle Bone Society. She is often asked to comment as a spokesperson in her role as a disability campaigner and appears as a regular on Loose Women and The Wright Stuff.
Samantha’s condition means she has endured over 200 fractures in her bones throughout her life. Despite the pain, she’s developed a technique to manage it, using an individual form of meditation. She insists though that she doesn’t want people to be inspired by her disability. “If you’re inspired by my fashion sense, my acting, or my writing, then great, but I’m just getting on with my life and I don’t want to be compared to an able-bodied person – I’m just me“.
But the truth remains that Sam is pretty special – and at our Women in Media group, showed us the fantastic vegan handbag she’d designed, details of which you can find here.
There’s clearly no end to this Beautiful Woman’s talents and her future looks so exciting. I asked Sam to answer our 5 Beautiful Thinking questions, which she kindly answered.
1. What does being beautiful mean to you?
Empathy & Compassion - anyone who demonstrates these are beautiful in my eyes.
2. Who would you consider a Beautiful Woman and why?
My sister Stephanie. She’s 4.5 years older than me and we couldn’t be more different from one another in every way. We’ve not seen eye to eye and have had many life situations that put a wedge between us - yet she’s always been there for me, always had the guts to tell me when I was being an idiot or out of control and she’s always pushed me to be the best I could be. In the past year I think we have actually become friends too....
3. What’s the first thing you reach for to feel beautiful yourself?
Fashion has always been instrumental in my life. When I was younger I didn’t feel comfortable in my own skin! I hated having a disability and feeling different. I hated people staring at me in the streets. One day I was out with my family and I broke down from the unwanted attention I was receiving. My sister knelt down next to me and said, “Have you ever thought people are looking at you because you have the best dress sense, and you look so stylish?”
Her words stuck, and even if the glares came from a negative place or from ignorance in my head, I heard my sister’s voice and this helped me to hold my head high.
Fashion makes me feel confident, sexy, creative and unique!
4. What’s your meditation or down time?
Since I moved to London nearly 7 years ago now, I’ve certainly become one of those stereotypical Londoners, fast pace and go go go! This has actually come at a price, as I’ve had two very nasty falls resulting in multiple broken bones, simply because I was rushing and not taking care. I’ve started to practice mindfulness, take a step back and concentrate on simply being in the moment rather than a busy haze... nothing’s worth jeopardizing my health for and I’m doing my best not to feel pressured by others, if I take my time!
5. If you ran the World, how would you make it a more beautiful place?
Rather than change this world, as I honestly wouldn’t know where to start, to make it better I’d like to create a dystopian world where people with disabilities were the ‘norm’ and the world was designed in every way for our needs. Where we lived independently, had respect, weren’t stereotyped, belittled or pitied and weren’t seen as burdens, rather assets! My friend and film producer Max Barber created a film called Homoland with the same premise but instead homosexuals were the majority and heterosexuals faced prejudice and discrimination. Sounds extreme, but again I believe the world simply lacks empathy on every level.... just maybe if we put our feet in the place of others we’d think and act differently.