Sophie Morgan, Disability Advocate, TV Presenter & Social Entrepreneur discuss her story, what life is like being one of the first female TV presenters in the world with a physical disability, and gave us insight into her memoir, ‘Driving Forwards’.
Opening the conversation around disability representation, Sophie explained, “there is so much joy out there that looks different” and highlighted the importance and the need to expand people’s perspectives on what it means to be disabled, and how it affects people differently – because, unfortunately, there is still an incredibly long way to go.
In order to achieve this desired perspective, we must assess those unconscious biases that are engraved in society. These unconscious biases can lead to a lack of opportunities and discrimination against people with disabilities, and they are extremely damaging and limiting – which Sophie has experienced first-hand throughout the majority of her time spent with her injury.
On the precipice of starting her adult life, aged 18, Sophie, a rebellious and incorrigible wild child, crashed her car and was instantly paralysed from the chest down.
Rushed to the hospital, everything she had dreamed for her life was instantly forgotten and her journey to rediscover herself and build a different life began. But being told she would never walk again would come to be the least of her concerns – as the following years were the hardest battle she had to face.
As she strived to come to terms with the change in her body, her relationships were put to the test; she has had to learn to cope with the many unexpected and unpredictable setbacks of living with paralysis; she has had to overcome her own and other people’s perceptions of disability and explore the limits of her abilities, all while searching for love, acceptance, meaning, identity and purpose.
Living with her disability, it became apparent that she was going to be met by a number of barriers and difficulties that able-bodied people may not face.
But, knowing this wasn’t going to get in her way she started exploring opportunities and began to explore the world, travelling a lot and redefining her own ideas about what disability means.
“Just because somebody told you you can’t, it doesn’t mean you should listen,” she said.
Reflecting on some of her experiences, she discussed the time she received a phone call from the hospital that told her that the BBC was looking for some ‘mad disabled people to go on an expedition across Nicaragua – and on the decision to not let this disability stop her, she took the opportunity and ended up going!
And it’s a good thing she did, as the experience opened up her eyes to television and made her realise that this industry could be such a powerful tool in reeducating and redefining people’s perceptions around disability.
If she could show her doing these incredible things then people will stop telling her that she can’t do something. “Seeing is believing,” she said, and this was her opportunity to show other disabled people, and people who project these biases, that she can, and she will.
After she took this opportunity, the doors were opened and opportunities came flooding in for Sophie, she has gone on to become a hugely successful presenter, TV Personality and advocate for disabled people.
She has gone on to appear in BBC Three’s Britain’s Missing Top Model, and present Licence to Kill, a documentary for BBC Three about road accidents caused by young drivers.
She travelled to Ghana in 2015, to present The World’s Worst Place To Be Disabled?, and in 2021 she presented Living Wild: How to Change Your Life. She has also become a regular panellist on Loose Women and is a fan favourite for many.
Sophie didn’t let her disability stop her from achieving her dreams and took on all the opportunities that came her way. Doing this she in turn “became an accidental activist”.
“Sometimes you have no choice but to keep fighting for change. There’s always something else we need to tackle and fight for, and this is just one of those things.”
Sophie is a truly inspiring person, and the doors she has opened for herself and other disabled people are huge. Want to hear more about Sophie’s inspiring story?