Sheila Heti + Aimee Mullins Happy Talk
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Aimee Mullins is an actor, athlete, and noted storyteller. She won a full academic scholarship to Georgetown University, where she double-majored in history and diplomacy, and there she became the first amputee in history to compete in NCAA Division 1 track and field. Competing in integrated meets at the national and international level, she ultimately set three world records as a United States Paralympian at the 1996 Atlanta Games. She was the first person in the world to use the iconic “Cheetah” sprinting legs, and continues to collaborate on cutting-edge prosthetic development at university labs around the world. After school, Mullins explored issues of body image and identity by working with legendary fashion designer Alexander McQueen – launching her runway career on hand-carved wooden legs – and was recently signed as a new global face of beauty brand L’Oréal Paris. She has spent nearly two decades as a pioneer and passionate advocate for a new kind of thinking about "disability," and has been the driving force behind global conversations about the cultural role of both technology and aesthetics in prosthetics. Her writings have appeared in such publications as Wired, Harper’s Bazaar, and Gizmodo. She made her acting debut playing six different characters in Matthew Barney's Cremaster 3, and she continues her work with Barney today, currently starring as Isis in a film adaptation of Ancient Evenings, an abstraction of Norman Mailer’s novel of the same name. She is based in New York City.
Toronto based Sheila Heti is the author of five books: the story collection, The Middle Stories (McSweeney’s Books); the novel, Ticknor (Farrar, Straus and Giroux); and an illustrated book for children, We Need a Horse (McSweeney's McMullins) featuring art by Clare Rojas. With Misha Glouberman, she wrote a book of "conversational philosophy" called The Chairs Are Where the People Go (Faber & Faber), which The New Yorker chose as one of its Best Books of 2011. Most recently, she published How Should a Person Be? (Henry Holt) which The New York Times Book Review called an "odd, original, and nearly unclassifiable book... unlike any other novel I can think of."
Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, The London Review of Books, n+1, McSweeney’s, Bookforum, and other places, and her work has been translated into German, French, Spanish, Dutch, Italian, Vietnamese and Serbian.
In 2001, she created the Trampoline Hall lecture series (hosted by Misha Glouberman), at which three people deliver lectures on subjects outside their areas of expertise, then take questions from the audience. The shows have been running monthly in Toronto since that time and have sold out every show since their inception.
In 2008, she created The Metaphysical Poll, a blog that collected the sleeping dreams people were having about Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama during the Democratic primaries. The blog received hundreds of dreams and press in The Washington Post, The LA Times, The New Yorker, Slate, The Economist and elsewhere.
She appeared in photographs as Lenore Doolan in Leanne Shapton’s book-as-auction catalogue, Important Artifacts and Personal Property from the Collection of Lenore Doolan and Harold Morris,which is being made into a movie with Natalie Portman as Lenore and Brad Pitt as Harold.
Photo of Aimee Mullins courtesy of Howard Schatz