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Emily Blunt blows the lid off stuttering

REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

Emily Blunt blows the lid off stuttering

Emily Blunt blows the lid off stuttering

Articulate and eloquent, it’s hard to believe Emily Blunt spent her formative years struggling with a debilitating speech disorder. She opens up about her adolescent stuttering, bullying and the magic of Mary Poppins.

Now that she is mother of two daughters: Hazel, 4, and Violet, 2, who she is raising with husband John Krasinski, her co-star in the blockbuster horror film, A Quiet Place (which he also wrote and directed), Emily Blunt speaks candidly about her fears for her kids. “Stuttering is genetic,” she nods slowly.

“Of course, like every mother, you worry irrationally about your kids. You want to make sure that they are safe, taken care of and not teased, even though teasing and bullying is part of growing up,” she says.

Blunt, the titular star in Mary Poppins Returns was no stranger to bullying. “Stuttering is something that still people poke fun at. It is a disability and people are teased because they sound funny and they look funny when they stutter. I looked funny and sounded funny and kids in the class were like, ‘Why can’t you say it! Just say it!’ I even had a teacher who would scream, ‘Spit it out!’” she says, shaking her head. “That is a problem. That it’s a very misinformed issue that a lot of adults are still going through. There are many adults out there who have never been given the right treatment and they find it impossible to get the kind of job that they deserve even though they are highly qualified but they can’t represent who they are in these meetings because they are hindered by their speech impediment.”

She works closely with the American Institute of Stuttering. “Stuttering for me was a part of my setback. Everyone has got one and that’s what I say to these kids who have severe stutters who come and talk to me. I say, ‘Look, everyone has got something and this is just your thing.’”

Despite her setbacks, Blunt sees the glass as half full. “When you have to overcome something you learn a lot about yourself. I just want these kids with stutters to know that it’s not forever, it’s temporary. You will find a way past it, and you do,” she says. “I say to the kids, ‘Everybody gets bullied and I promise you there’s light on the other side. It will pass and you will grow from it and you will learn from it. And to be different and to be an individual is the most important thing in the world’.”

She pauses. “Though there are times when I still stutter and I will always be a stutterer. It comes out if I am really tired or on the phone, I am really bad.”

What are her hopes for her children?

“Well I obviously don’t want that for them. But I know that that’s part of life and teasing will happen. If it gets to the point where bullying is happening and it becomes really cruel, that will be agonising for me. But my older one is at a school where kindness is paramount and at our household kindness is paramount. And so I want my kids to grow up with a great sense of justice.”

With Blunt and Krasinski enjoying successful careers, raising two beautiful children, she seems to be living the cliché of ‘having it all.’ What, if anything, keeps Emily Blunt up at night?

“Loss. Losing people I love is something I worry about. Other than losing my grandmother, which was devastating, I haven’t experienced loss yet. I’ve had a lot of people recently around me who have lost a parent. You get older and your parents get older and you start to get those big thoughts and those big questions come into play. And I think the more you have, the more you have at stake to lose and I think that is probably what scares me the most.

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