Name: Jeanette Roxborough
Triumph over adversity is the plot line behind Jeanette Roxborough’s role as a mother to a physically challenged child — both on and off the screen.
On the Hollywood set of Bare Knuckles, an action-packed flick directed by Eric Etebari, Roxborough is in a state of controlled calm despite the long hours and fighting scenes in the exhausting California heat.
Then again, she’s only been in L.A. for a month. A month and already a starring role in a movie? It might sound like an overnight fairy tale come true, but for Roxborough, nothing could be further from the truth.
The petite 5’5” blonde, who hails from Woodville, Ont. (population 600) had been a struggling actress in Toronto for eight years with short-lived roles in shows like Mutant X and Angels In The Infield. She had also found work as a stunt person in various projects like The Tuxedo and Witchblade, the TV series.
“It’s clichéd, but true,” says Roxborough. “You really can do anything if you believe in it strongly enough.”
Those words reflect not only her career pursuits, but also her role as a single mom raising Teya, a daughter born deaf and stricken with severe cerebellar hypoplasia, a condition which compromises the growth of the brain resulting in a loss of motor skills.
“I discovered there are special people in this planet, who can help special kids,” she says referring to a 60-year-old therapist she found in Chile without the support of the Ontario health system.
After traveling to South America five times, Teya — once prescribed to a wheelchair for life — was miraculously able to walk. She was eight years old.
Their story provided inspirational fuel for Bare Knuckles. The director, who had befriended Roxborough on the set of Witchblade, cast both mother and daughter into a revised script of the movie.
Despite the desperately needed career break, Roxborough, however, was at a lull in life. Enter Toronto physical trainer and recent FAME National Lightweight Champion Jody Boynton, who whipped the actress back into shape for free. “He gave of himself and really picked me up emotionally, as did Eric, the director.”
For those that have given to Roxborough, Roxborough has made it a mission to give back. She has established a fund, www.theteyafund.org, to help financially challenged families access specialized therapies for children with special needs.
“We were all just blown away by Jeanette’s tenacity and talent, and inspired by her as a human being. Her story raised the level of our story,” sums up producer Alison Richards.