MTV will be following South African activist Eddie Ndopu, who was born with spinal muscular atrophy and at the time, given five years to live. He defied the odds and went on to earn a Master’s Degree in Public Policy from Oxford University in London, and has spent the last ten years advocating for disabled youth rights. The documentary will begin filming in 2019. People Magazine’s Jen Su spoke with Eddie, on International Day of Persons with Disabilities.
JEN: Hi Eddie! Congrats on your new documentary deal with MTV! How did you first connect with MTV and tell me more about the project.
EDDIE: Chris McCarthy, the president of MTV, heard about my story and dream several months ago. He was so moved by it and decided to make it happen! MTV has always amplified the voices and stories of young people, which makes them a perfect partner for my unique journey. They’ll follow my monumental voyage as the first physically disabled person to travel into space. We will lead a groundbreaking campaign to deliver a powerful message to the UN General Assembly on behalf of any young person who has ever felt excluded by society. MTV is also synonymous with the moon person, whether through the Video Music Awards or its early iconic promos, so what better brand to fly with me to the moon?
JEN: Absolutely! I’d love to fly with you to the moon too, but I’m not quite as brave! Where will your documentary be filmed?
EDDIE: MTV will follow me everywhere, from South Africa where I live, to New York where my doctors at Columbia University are located, and around the world as I work to get an aerospace company on board to facilitate my flight.
JEN: Awesome! You took part in the Global Citizen Festival, alongside Trevor Noah, Dave Chappelle and other international celebs. What message did you deliver at the Festival?
EDDIE: My appearance at the Global Citizen Festival in Johannesburg, South Africa was the perfect platform to not only maximize my announcement with MTV, but to raise awareness about the rights of disabled people everywhere ahead of World Disability Day. As we paid tribute to Nelson Mandela’s 100th birthday, I thought of his profoundly powerful words: ‘it always seems impossible until it is done.’ With the help of MTV, my campaign to become the first physically disabled person to travel into space is about showing the world that with a lot of heart and a bit of human ingenuity, anything is possible.
JEN: Indeed! Finally, what is your message for the UN International Persons with Disabilities Day?
EDDIE: Let’s raise the level of ambition for inclusion in the world and reach for the stars because the sky is not the limit!