Canadian actor Kenneth Mitchell, who plays the Klingon Kol-Sha on Star Trek: Discovery, was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis over a year ago. He has now chosen to share that information.
Many people have heard of ALS because of the ice bucket challenge fundraiser that was popular a few years ago, but aren’t quite sure what ALS is. Also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, this is the same neurological disorder that afflicted the late physicist Stephen Hawking. Christina Dugan of People Magazine described ALS as a “debilitating neurological disease that slowly takes away a person’s ability to control his or her muscles.” Mitchell knew something was wrong, but until he was diagnosed with ALS he thought he had a pinched nerve or possibly multiple sclerosis.
Obviously, this diagnosis has made some major changes in his life. His producers have been helpful, using stunt doubles more, filming Mitchell sitting down or leaning against a wall.
“I do remember there was something really simple and beautiful in a way, how my wife and I were in the trenches together, and how we from this moment on we’re having to deal with something so severe that was going to affect our lives forever,” said Mitchell, who has played multiple roles in Star Trek: Discovery, including Kol and Tenavik. “We grieved and mourned really hard. There was so much unknown.”
He turned down one role that would have meant months of filming on location away from his family. He has decided to spend as much time as possible with his family while he is still relatively healthy. His children are 12 and 7. He has used a wheelchair to aid mobility since October 2019. He and his wife Susan May Pratt(Amy in Open Water 2: Adrift, Fran in CSI: Cyber) have pulled the children out of school occasionally to spend family time together.
In addition to play Kol-Sha and Timekeeper Tenavik in ST: Discovery, he is Joshua Dodd in Nancy Drew and was Joseph Danvers in the Captain Marvel movie, Eric Green in Jericho, and Sam Lucas in Ghost Whisperer.
Why is Mitchell telling outsiders he has ALS? Up until now, he’s only told people who needed to know, school officials, TV producers. When someone has a major life-changing illness or accident, it’s a delicate balance to decide what and how much to tell other people. The urge to protect one’s privacy wars with the chance to help others in the same situation.
“I’m just getting more comfortable with what’s happening with me. I think there’s something I can offer and I want to be a part of that. A lot of people helped me along the way, through my actions, or if I can inspire one person that would mean a lot to me. So, I just feel like it’s time. There’s a practical aspect of it. I can’t hide it anymore. I thought instead of shielding myself away in my home, which, if that’s your choice that’s fine, too. I wouldn’t make any judgment on anyone. I don’t think anyone would on me. But, I just feel like it’s time that I get out there and be a voice.”
Susan Macdonald is the author of the children’s book “R is for Renaissance Faire”, as well as short stories in “Alternative Truths”, “Swords and Sorceress #30”, “Supernatural Colorado”, “Barbarian Crowns”, “Cat Tails””Under Western Stars”, and “Knee-High Drummond and the Durango Kid”. Her articles have appeared on SCIFI.radio’s web site, in The Inquisitr, and in The Millington Star. She enjoys Renaissance Faires (see book above), science fiction conventions, Highland Games, and Native American pow-wows.