NOTHING SLOWS DARYL MITCHELL
A WHEELCHAIR USER SINCE 2001, THE ACTOR IS THRIVING ON ‘NCIS: NEW ORLEANS’ AND ‘FEAR THE WALKING DEAD’
By Rob Owen
Actor Daryl “Chill” Mitchell had two dozen credits to his name prior to a 2001 motorcycle accident that put him in a wheelchair.
“I made my mark as an able-bodied actor, so [I said] the least you could give me is the opportunity, and they didn’t have a problem with that,” says Mitchell of auditioning post-accident. “When I get in the room they’d be like, ‘Man, ain’t nothing changed, you’re just sitting down.’”
Mitchell’s first big role after the accident was co-starring on NBC’s “Ed.” “That show told me that I’m still capable of doing this,” he says. Ramps on set, provided for his wheelchair, wound up being useful for the camera operators, too.
Now an “NCIS: New Orleans” regular who also finds time for a recurring role on “Fear the Walking Dead,” Mitchell says he encourages casting directors to get actors with disabilities into auditions for roles conceived of for able-bodied actors.
“A lot of these networks are starting to step their game up,” he says, noting he was pleased to see “Fear the Walking Dead” cast a multiple amputee as a walker in a scene he filmed.
Mitchell notes his son, who is on the autism spectrum, got hired as a production assistant on “NCIS: New Orleans” after simply hanging around the set and helping out.
“They gave him a walkie-talkie and he never looked back,” Mitchell says. “It just goes to show you, people just need opportunities.”
Mitchell says he tells others to be grateful for what they have, regardless of their condition.
“I had bad days when I was walking, that is the bottom line,” he says. “You got to pick your head up, you gotta keep pushing because every day ain’t gonna be sunshine — that’s whether you’re abled or disabled.”