The alopecian actor stopped by BuzzFeed to share his thoughts on body positivity.
David Bertozzi/ BuzzFeed
You’d recognize Anthony Carrigan if you saw him on TV, right? Not necessarily. The up-and-coming actor has been popping up in primetime network TV dramas for several years now, but only recently while feeling (and looking) like himself. We spoke to the actor, currently starring as Victor Zsasz on Gotham, about his career, his alopecia areata — a condition that causes the loss of his hair, eyebrows, and even eyelashes — and what body image means to him, personally and professionally.
How long have you had alopecia?
AC: I’ve had alopecia since I was 3, so quite a few years. I grew up with it and it was always very manageable. I only had spots that were [relatively small] so I always covered it up. I was always very embarrassed about it. Even when I was in my 20s, very few of my friends even knew that I had alopecia. I kept it under wraps. I didn’t want to let anyone know and I didn’t want it to affect my career or the possibility of me getting hired for a job. So I covered up. I got out of school and got some good jobs, but at that point it started getting worse.
There was one point where I was doing a job and we had millions of viewers every week, it was a TV job, and I lost half my scalp and both eyebrows and the majority of my eyelashes. I was covering up in order to look like this character. It was pretty terrifying to have to keep that secret and pretend like I looked this way, that I looked normal when I just didn’t. I was doing red carpet events and putting on my eyebrows before going out there and hoping that no one would notice. It’s a really weird thing to be seen while trying not to be seen. It’s a very strange thing.
So is that the point when you knew your hair was all going to go?
AC: Yeah, I knew that was a possibility but I was terrified of what that was going to look like. I always avoided the way that I look naturally. Also at that period of my life I was being encouraged to cover up as well by certain friends, certain family, certain business people. They thought I should cover it up but it didn’t feel right, so eventually – and it took a long time – I got to the point where I didn’t care anymore. I wanted to just feel OK with the way that I looked so I shaved my head and I stopped wearing makeup.
Immediately I started booking work, but the work was just a byproduct. The most important thing was that I just felt so good to not have to hide anymore, to own the way that I am and feel really good about it, feel really positive about the way that I look. That took a lot of work. It wasn’t an overnight thing. It was very incremental. It took a lot of positivity and a lot of compassion and reinforcement.
I eventually got to this place where I was proud of the way that I look. I thought that it was super cool and unique and strange and different. As soon as I embraced that and started carrying myself in that way, all of a sudden that’s how everyone began to see me. So that was great!
David Bertozzi/ BuzzFeed