Emma Caulfield, who has acted in “Beverly Hills, 90210” and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” just revealed she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2010 — and said she feared publicizing the matter would end her career.
“There are already plenty of reasons not to hire people, reasons most actors don’t even know,” Caulfield told Vanity Fair in an interview published Tuesday. “‘You look like my ex-girlfriend …You’re too short ...’ I knew in my bones that if you talk about this, you’re just going to stop working. That’s it.”
Caulfield kept the diagnosis private and married actor Mark Leslie Ford in 2017. She quietly kept working and joined the Marvel universe with a recurring role in “WandaVision” in 2021, but was inspired by her 6-year-old daughter to open up — and share her diagnosis with the world.
“I’m so tired of not being honest,” she told Vanity Fair. “And beyond that, my daughter has changed my perspective, as I think anybody who is a parent can attest. I know that she has a 30% greater chance of coming down with this, just the luck of the draw for her.”
“She’s six,” added Caulfield. “She’s just started first grade … It got me thinking about her and how full of joy and active she is, and she’s just such a remarkable little creature. I’m not actually doing everything I can for her because I have my mouth shut. If I had a platform at all, I should be using it.”
Caulfield said she had “zero health problems” until she woke up one day feeling like “there were a million ants crawling” on her face. Her acupuncturist believed she had Bell’s Palsy, which affects the facial muscles, but an MRI from a neurologist confirmed she had multiple sclerosis.
“It was like an out-of-body experience,” she told Vanity Fair. “I’m like, ‘No that’s not possible.’ I’m like, ‘What are you talking about?’ He was very matter of fact about it ... It was literally a kind of nightmare ... It turns out it was something major. Then I was like, ‘I’ve got to go to work.’ What do I do?”
The central nervous system disease leads one’s own immune system to attack the exterior of nerve fibers, impeding communication between the brain and body as a result. Currently incurable, its symptoms include fatigue, blurry vision, tingling and numbness, according to the Mayo Clinic.
“I’m okay right now,” she told Vanity Fair. “It’s a weird thing to say when you’re given a diagnosis like that, but truthfully, my attitude is not crumbling under the fear of ‘what if’ or ‘what can,’ or ‘what has’ for other people. I just have to keep going.”